Chapter 01

Charles ‘Chuck’ Phillips Meadows

Some years ago my favorite uncle asked me to help him write his biography. He was concerned because he was a great man and a great hero, but the various books and stories about him showed him as a very shallow person when he was the exact opposite. I was concerned, too, because they showed him to be of almost mythical proportions. He was a larger than life hero who really lived, which is true. But he wasn’t the great untroubled, all seeing, mythical hero he’s fast becoming in folk lore. I agreed to help, because I wanted the world to know him as the very human and real person he was. A man who thought and planned ahead, a man who cared more for others than himself, a man who died a little bit every time one of his people died or got wounded or hurt bad. He was a man of caring as well as planning and daring.

In short, we didn’t want his memorial to be a false and mythical image of him, but a balanced accounting of a very human person who saw a problem, counted the cost of dealing with it, and then went ahead and dealt with it as best as he could, with what he had available. In the preface to his original autobiography manuscript, he said, “I’m a man they call a hero because I managed, by blind luck, to live through a hell of a fight where I was privileged to command many people who were greater heroes than I’ll ever be.”

The manuscript of his autobiography, and most of his records, were stolen in the first days following his death. Many people are suspected of this foul deed, but there’s no evidence to charge any one person or organization. Other records that could help shed light on this man and his life are still shrouded in mystery, because they are highly classified and will remain so for many more decades, unless someone high up within the government declassifies them ahead of schedule, something that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

We are fortunate some parts of the biography he wrote with me were saved on a very old external hard drive and not wiped when we transferred the documents to a newer computer. Although this is an incomplete and very early draft, it provided some understanding of him and some details needed for this account. The quote above is from the opening pages of this draft.

The other major sources of information for this book are the diaries and notes we both made during the period of time this account covers, interviews with people who knew and served with him, and some other information I’ve been able to find in many public records. Because I’ve not had access to all the other relevant information I can’t write this as a biography or ghost autobiography the way he wanted me to, but I’ve written it as a story on his later life.

I apologize, in advance, for any shortcomings you may find in this story. I’m rushing it to completion and into print for public distribution, in the hope of having the information out before the public will cause those who’re trying to stop that from happening to end their attempts on my life. I may be a great business woman and worth millions, but I can still be assassinated if someone goes to enough trouble, and they’ve already tried six times. We’re sure these attempts are related to my desire to tell the truth about some events in my uncle’s life, since the attempts on my life only started after that intention was made known.

Some of the things I’ll mention are controversial, and I fully expect some people to initiate court action because of them. I’m prepared to meet them in court and deal with whatever consequences that brings. One thing I do know is: they won’t be able to stop this story from being published because they don’t have the resources to close me down or my various publishing sources since we’re currently outside of the US and beyond their legal reach. Also, their unlawful reach will have troubles dealing with us in Australia and Ireland, especially through the security screens we have in place.

I’ll start this account off with the English class writing assignment I did in high school. I’ll follow that with a short account of Chuck’s activities after he was medically retired, as best as I can from the sources I have. Very little is known of his life and career prior to his joining the Rapid Response Force, and what is known is already available in the official history released by the US Department of Defense (DoD). The variations between the official account of his later contacts with the DoD and what’s recounted in this story leads me to wonder about the veracity, and completeness, of what is in the official account. But we have no records from that period to check against now. However, without any other reliable sources of information I’ll have to leave some parts of his life alone, although we do know they were well covered in the stolen documents.

I’m writing my parts from my point of view, and sometimes that of an impartial observer. I won’t even attempt to include any of a person’s actual thoughts or emotions, except my own; or where a person’s actions and words, as recounted, make them very clear or they were written down by them soon after the event. I’ll also skip most of the time covered in my old high school assignment, except to include a few things I didn’t put in the assignment.

What you’ll read, except for the summaries from the history books, will show you a man of conflicting emotions and deep ethics who abides by his ethics, though they maybe not the exact same ethics as our society. They’ll show you a man who loved deeply and in many ways, for many reasons; a man who accepted orders from his superiors, despite being a better man than they; and a man who’s prepared to put everything he has on the line to do his duty as he sees it. A man who sees far into the future, and makes plans to deal with the problems arising from that vision.

His superiors and society deem him to be a hero, he never thought of himself as such. I think of him as a hero, but not the same as the one the legends are making him out to be. I say he’s a hero, because I regard a hero as being a person who continues to do his duty as he sees it, in very exceptional circumstances, despite the cost to himself. That is the true definition of a hero, and it can apply to a war hero or anyone else in any walk of life - a farmer, a nurse, a fire fighter, or a shop keeper.

Because of the mixture of sources and times the various parts were written in, you may notice distinct differences in writing styles. I also chose to write in the third person for some sections, mostly written from records by others, because this was the easiest way for me to write those parts.

Now read about the later life of General Charles ‘Chuck’ Phillips, Medal of Honor, Silver Star (three times), and Purple Heart.

My Uncle - Chuck Meadows

by Charlene Meadows

This year my high school English class writing assignment was to pick a relative, learn more about them, then write about them and our relationship. It could be done in any way we wish, as long as it tells about two or more things we didn’t previously know about the relative and a bit about our relationship. Thus the need to research them and learn more about them. I selected my favorite uncle, Chuck Meadows.

In doing the research for this assignment I found out a lot of things I never knew before. A lot of what I learned was confusing and I’d a great difficulty in putting it into a sensible format. After discussion with the school librarian, and others, I’ve chosen to write his story in two parts. The first and largest is some of my recollections of the significant parts of our relationship, including a personal account of some recent events. Last is some official records that have a bearing on him. In the first section I’ll write about what I knew when I knew it, while the second will be information copied from the stated reference works. Until I did this assignment I had no idea I had any family who were listed in public records in such a way, nor did I know his actual military rank.

When the assignments were handed in the teacher told us one of the reasons for the assignment was to make us aware we never truly know all about a person, or know about the people in our community. Boy, was she right about that, because I did learn great deal in doing this.

Uncle Chuck

My earliest memory of Uncle Chuck is from when I was about five or six years old and this large man in military uniform arrived to spend Christmas with us. Mom said he was my Uncle Charles, her brother of some special sort and a very old school friend of Daddy’s; he was the one who introduced them to each other. He was with us for ten days, and each day was great fun. When Daddy got called to go to work for an emergency two days after Christmas, it was Uncle Chuck who took us to the fairground and the shows playing there at the time. He took all six of us kids - my three brothers, my sister, my best friend from next door, and me. I don’t remember what presents I got that year, but I remember that trip to the fairground being very special because of him.

Uncle Chuck phoned Mom and Dad most weekends and would often talk with me, too. He’d turn up and spend a few weeks with us every twelve to eighteen months. Over the next seven years I saw Uncle Chuck five times, and we always got on very well - much more so than how either of us got on with my brothers and sister. One strange thing, I always knew when he was about to visit. I’d just get this funny feeling he was getting nearer, and he’d turn up in a day or two. I mentioned this to Mom when I was about ten. She just smiled, and said, “It’s to be expected for you two.” But wouldn’t say why.

About six weeks before my thirteenth birthday we’re sitting down watching the news when the phone rings and Dad answers it. A few minutes later he walks back looking very upset, and turns the news off. Looking at Mom, he says, “That was the Army, Chuck is dead.”

Without even thinking, I say, “No he’s not.”

Mom and Dad look at me, and Dad says, “No matter how much we don’t want it to be, he’s dead. They don’t make those sorts of mistakes.”

I look at them both, and say, “He’s not dead. I don’t care what you say! They’ve made a mistake this time. I know he’s still alive.”

Mom looks at us both, and says, “I’ll reserve judgment until such time as I see a corpse. We’ve always known they’ve something special.” Dad just looks surprised, and walks off shaking his head.

Mom turns the television back on, in time for us to catch the end of the news, as the announcer says, “In overseas news the main item is still the invasion of Europe by the Communist Chinese Army. They entered Russia through Kazakhstan and Mongolia in the last few days. The main force turned north just west of the Ural Mountains. All available Russian and European military forces have been deployed in an effort to halt them east of the Volga River. The international support for the Russians has been extensive, and includes many US forces. The main stopping line was forming in a line from Perm to the Volga River when the US Rapid Response Force was deployed from Samara as a sacrifice force to slow the Chinese Army down and buy the time needed for the main line to get established, dug in, and be ready for them.” At this point Mom gasps, and looks very concerned.

Turning to me, she says, “The Rapid Response Force is Charles’ unit.” Gulping hard, we both turn back to the television.

The announcer is saying, “ ... a division of US Marines and the Australian Special Air Service Regiment were tasked with holding down the eastern flank and stopping the Chinese from crossing or moving up the other side of the rivers nearer the Ural Mountains. The RRF made contact with the Chinese forces in what was expected to be a very short combat of about an hour. The battle lasted five hours and inflicted so much damage to the Chinese forces the Marines were able to put them to flight simply by moving over the river towards them. The latest reports have the Chinese forces still withdrawing back through Kazakhstan in disorder. General Dawson, the commanding officer of the Marines, said, ‘The success of this battle is due solely to the courage and determination of the men and women of the RRF. Most of my staff and I were privileged to be able to observe much of the battle from the other side of the river. The courage and skill demonstrated by the RRF troops is in the best traditions of any military force, and well justifies their inclusion in the Special Forces order of battle.’ The RRF was wiped out with one hundred percent casualties and all their tanks were destroyed.” At that point Mom starts crying while we view the images of destroyed and burning tanks littered across the fields the battle took place in. Mom turns the television off and goes upstairs. My brothers and sister remain sitting there staring at the blank television. I don’t know why or how, but I just knew Uncle Chuck wasn’t dead.

Next Day

The next morning, Mom is still spaced out and very red eyed; I don’t think she got much sleep. After breakfast I sit down at the table with Mom, and ask her, “What did you mean when you said Uncle Chuck and I have always had something special?”

She half smiles, and cries while telling me, “When I was expecting you, near the end and you were about to be born, your father was away on business and Charles was here on leave. He stayed with us to provide support until your father returned from his business trip. The night you were born I went into labor and Charles took me to the birthing clinic I was booked into. I preferred the friendlier atmosphere of the clinic over the hospital, that turned out to be a mistake. When we arrived at the clinic there was no doctor in sight and only the nurse on hand. We’d been promised there’d always be a doctor, a midwife, and a nurse on hand, with extra staff called in as patients arrived. You were three weeks early, and we later found out there were no deliveries scheduled that night or the next day. When the midwife called in sick the doctor didn’t call in another. He was the owner and figured to save an expense that wasn’t needed.” After a sip of water, she says, “With no one about at dinnertime the doctor went out for dinner, and was silly enough to leave his phone and beeper behind in his white coat. That was about the same time as I was calling for your Uncle Charles. He called the organized babysitter for your brothers and sister. She arrived while he was helping me into the car with my ‘clinic bag.’ Ten minutes’ drive later he’s helping me through the front door of the clinic, and the nurse rushes over with a wheelchair for me. They took me through and got me settled on one of the birthing beds. The nurse vanished for several minutes, and returned looking very flustered. We later found out she’d been trying to get hold of the doctor or any of the doctors, but couldn’t get any of them on the phone. Fifteen minutes after arriving I was fully dilated and screaming in pain because you wouldn’t get born. The nurse was very worried and agitated. Charles asked her what the trouble was. She was crying when she said was only a trainee nurse and she couldn’t reach the doctors or midwives earlier. She said something was wrong and she didn’t know what it was. Charles swore greatly and pushed her out of the way. He took over, and a moment later said you were a breach birth. In one of those special units he’d been in they gave him advanced medic training and it covered child birth. It always surprised me the military medical training included child birth of an equal standard to a midwife. He administered an epidural, pushed you back, and started turning you. He also had the nurse get his mobile phone out of his pocket and call a number on it for him. He organized for one of the military doctors he knows to come to the clinic. Thirty minutes later you were born feet first. I’d suffered interior damage at the start of the birth, due to the breach presentation. After making sure you were alive Charles packed me with ice to stop the bleeding. An Army doctor arrived soon after that and took over my care while Charles attended to you because you needed a lot of immediate care, due to being a premature birth. The doctor had to operate on me to save my life, and I was under heavy sedation for two days. During that time Charles cared for you and bottle fed you with a special formula they had. The day after your birth he got his leave extended, and stayed with us caring for you for several weeks because I wasn’t well enough to do so and your father wasn’t able to care for both of us when he got back. I spent a week in hospital and six weeks absolute bed rest with a nurse in attendance at home. By then you were on bottle feeds.”

She stops for another drink, “One thing I did notice in the first week at home was Charles would wander in half asleep and start getting your bottle ready in the middle of the night; just as it was ready you’d be waking up and ready for it. During the day he’d wander in and start getting me ready for the breast feed and you’d wake up when he walked over to get you. The nurse noticed you always knew when he was in the room, even when you couldn’t see him and he hadn’t spoken yet; you’d turn to face towards the doorway when he walked in, despite not being able to see it from inside your crib. He always seemed to know what you needed before you let us know. I never heard you cry for attention, until about an hour after he left at the end of his leave. He was always there before you were ready to cry for it. When he later visited on leave you both always knew where the other was relative to each other. I always put it down to some special bonding link due to the troubles with your birth. I also found out, after the event, Charles had called in a lawyer and a civilian doctor after you were born that night. They arrived and documented it all, they also interviewed the nurse. The matter never went to court, but the nurse was paid two hundred and fifty thousand dollars compensation for being placed in such a stressful predicament when her terms of employment promised she’d never be left alone. You and I were paid a million dollars compensation each, yours is in a trust fund for you and is now worth about six million dollars. Charles was paid a million dollars compensation, as well, for his efforts and stress on the night. I used mine as financing to set your father up properly in his current business.”

I sit there just staring at Mom for a while. I’m a multimillionaire, no wonder she always just looks at me and smiles when I ask about my college tuition fees. Mom and Dad are often discussing how they’re going to provide for my brothers’ and sister’s college fees, but not mine. After a few minutes of digesting all this I half smile, and say, “Well, I do have a lot to thank Uncle Chuck for. Mom. Believe me, I know he’s not dead. Don’t ask me how I know, but I know he’s not dead and he’s thinking of us. He’s hurt and distressed, but alive.”

She smiles and gives me that look. The ‘That’s nice, but I don’t believe a word of what you’re saying’ look parents sometimes give their children. After reaching across the table I squeeze her hand. We don’t watch the news for a few days, because it’s just too painful with the reports from Russia dominating all the news reports.

I take a week off from school. Everyone understands because they know how close I was to Uncle Chuck. Mom and I comfort each other at home while Dad looks after his business and my siblings go to school.

New News

A few days later I’m watching television when there’s some news headlines in the ad break. I’m avoiding the news at the moment and about to switch to another channel when I catch the phrase, “Miracle on the battle field, more shortly.” I stay, and watch through the few ads. The news desk returns, and the announcer says, “Earlier today troops cleaning up the Samara Battlefield cut their way into a tank whose hatches had been welded shut by fire. They were surprised to find one of the crew still alive after four days in the burnt out tank. The man was taken to hospital suffering from dehydration and heat injuries.” I don’t hear any more because the scene changes to show a man on a stretcher being taken into a hospital - it’s Uncle Chuck.

I jump up and scream very loud. The whole family soon surrounds me. I stand there pointing at the television, saying, “Uncle Chuck. He’s alive. They just had him on the news going into hospital.” No one believes me. But Dad is the eternal pragmatist in so many ways. He goes and phones the local television station. He asks if they have a recording of the news item just broadcast. They say they do, and he asks if he can come over to see it. They promise to run it again in a few minutes. The channel he called is a different one to the one I was watching, and they’d run it a bit earlier in the day. We change channels and Dad turns on the recorder. Seven minutes later the same news item is run. When they show the man being carried into the hospital Dad’s jaw drops and Mom’s eyes go wide. She turns and looks at me, with a smile - her first smile in days.

Dad is soon up and on the phone to the people in Washington who’d phoned to say Uncle Chuck was dead. He speaks and shouts at them for several minutes. They promise to check it and call him back. We all sit around waiting and watching the clock for thirty-nine and a half minutes. They call back to tell us they’d just had confirmation from the military hospital in Russia - it is Uncle Chuck. We all jump around and shout with joy at the good news.

June to August

In late June Dad sits us down to tell us the hospital is releasing Uncle Chuck on medical leave to recover at home. It means he still needs a lot of rest but there’s no advantage in it being done in a hospital, they’re also sending a nurse along to look after changing his bandages etc. This isn’t normal for this type of leave, but they’re doing it. He wants to come home and I think they want to get rid of him, so they’re shipping him out early, at his insistence. When he visits this isn’t a problem, because the spare room, which is beside mine, is really his room. But we need space for a nurse, so one of us has to double up. After confirming the nurse is a woman I offer to share my room with her. Dad smiles, and calls them back to make the arrangements.

Uncle Chuck comes home on July 2nd. He looks a bit spaced out, and the nurse explains it’s the pain killers because they gave him a higher dosage for the traveling. Part of his face looks odd, as if the skin on his jaw was made of plastic and it melted. We soon have him settled in his room and his nurse is in a new bed in my room.

Jenny, the nurse, is happy to learn both Mom and I are glad to help look after Uncle Chuck so she can have some time off during the day. She still has to apply his creams to the various parts of his body. Jenny and I often hear him wake up in the early morning with a whimper when the pain killers have worn off. He’s confined to the bed for the first two weeks, then allowed to walk about upstairs a bit for the next two weeks, and then permitted to walk around the house. By mid August he’s recovered a lot and is allowed to walk about town with Jenny and me in attendance with his creams and drugs on hand, just in case they’re needed.

The Rest of the Year

During the first few months Uncle Chuck spends a lot of time talking on the phone to people and sending lots of letters. He takes a long time recovering his strength, and Jenny goes home in late September. By Thanksgiving he looks a lot better and is moving around very well. He still has trouble with stretching his legs and arms right out, and will groan with pain when reaching hard for something or moving about on the chair.

One of the treatment changes introduced in late August is for him to spend a lot of time in the bath with various chemicals added to the water. After a talk with the doctor he buys a large spa and builds a special room for it just off the back porch. The room is built of a type of glass with the bottom half distorting what you see through it, while the top half and the roof are crystal clear. Dad has two toilets and showers installed between the ‘Spa Room’ and the house. They open on to the ‘Spa Room’ so people in the spa don’t have to go outside to go to the toilet, and people can have a shower after being in the spa. Uncle Chuck checks with the doctors again, and we’re all allowed to use the spa because the chemicals for his treatment won’t hurt us. I later learn they’re intended to allow the skin to become a bit more elastic and easier to stretch.

Uncle Chuck has been with us for some months, but it’s only when I join him in the spa, one day, I find out the full extent of his ‘burn’ injuries. They call them burn injuries because they were caused by the fire his tank was engulfed in, but the flame never touched him. The fire was so intense it melted the outer metal fittings and the steel hull radiated the heat inwards. He was lucky he was wearing full combat armor and sitting in a chair made out of composite materials with a ceramic outer coating. The bulk of the combat armor was also ceramic and composite, so was his combat helmet with built-in communications gear. When I see the damage he explains he’d grabbed some spare sets of armor to protect his neck, groin, and hands because the ceramic trauma plates were heat resistant. The radiated heat was so high the skin on the parts of his body that weren’t protected by ceramics became like plastic and melted a little in the heat. Most of his treatment is to deal with the pain responses from the damaged nerves.

The areas of damage are his chin, legs between the mid-thighs and ankles, arms between the shoulder and just above the wrists, and part of his left side from mid-rib to the waist for an area about as wide as my hand. The skin has a sort of odd ripple look to it. He assures me it’s a lot better than it was at the time he was taken to hospital. The rest of his body is OK, because it was protected by either the armor or the chair or the helmet. For days he sat in the chair turned at an angle with his head bent down and extra sets of armor held to him around his neck and across his lap. He was awake for the whole time, since he couldn’t afford to sleep, because he might slide out of the chair in his sleep if he did. All he’ll say about that time is, “It wasn’t nice.” I figure that to be an understatement of the most extreme kind.

Sometimes he’ll wake up in the middle of the night - screaming. When we reach him he’s sitting up in bed sweating and crying. Dad has Uncle Chuck’s room sound proofed to allow the rest of us to sleep. But before he did, I’d heard what Uncle Chuck yelled into the night, it was always the same, “Nooo, Mary. Yes, rest in peace, love, I wish I could.” I often wonder what it relates to, because it causes him to lose a lot of sleep. I know he’s seeing a counselor about the trauma of the battle and his nights of screaming are getting less, but they still happen at times.

By Christmas he’s almost back to being the big friendly uncle I’ve always known, a gentle and loving bear of a man. He passes fit enough to be discharged from medical care by the military doctors in early December, and is immediately retired on medical grounds because he’s no longer combat fit. He now lives with us all the time.

Next Year

Our house is on a large block of land on the eastern edge of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Because it’s the edge furthest from the main highways and the tourist attractions it’s a quiet part of town. The council had planned for a light industrial estate to be built in the area adjacent to us, but no developers were interested, due to the distance from the highway and lack of other support infrastructure. Uncle Chuck buys most of the neighboring land from the council very cheap, because no one has expressed an interest in it for fifteen years. The land he buys is beside and behind our land. It’s almost a rectangular block of land eight miles deep by five miles wide. Part of the back boundary of the block is a poor quality county road that joins the highway at a truck stop about twenty miles north of us, and is on the other side of the main part of town. The other part of the back boundary is rough hills. The side boundary opposite us is just past another county road that goes down to the main industrial area on the south side of town. The council thought this road would be a good link between the light and heavy industrial areas, but it just wasn’t of good enough quality and no one was paying to upgrade it. Thus the project never took off. The boundary on our side is residences and a small shopping mall taking up a large part of it near us. We can reach the mall by walking just over a quarter mile across the land, or by driving three miles through the streets. The fourth boundary is the planned extension of the street we live on.

After buying the land Uncle Chuck sits down to talk to Dad about his truck business. Dad owns fifty tractor trailer trucks doing general freight across the states in our region. His operations center is in the heavy industrial estate because that’s where most of his clients are. The business is doing so well he needs to expand, but his current site is at full capacity. He has to buy more land or relocate, both are expensive choices. That’s why Mom and Dad are worried about college fees. The cost of expanding will mean they won’t have money to put all my brothers and sister through college until the new operation starts to get rolling in a few years, too late for two of my brothers. After a brief talk Uncle Chuck insists mother, myself, and our lawyer are part of the discussions. The second meeting takes place about a week later, in the lawyer’s office. Uncle Chuck lays out his plan.

The Plan

He’s created a new company to undertake development of his new land, Hades Investments. He already has the land and another four million dollars. He wishes to borrow my money at a low interest rate and will lease part of the land to Dad. Uncle Chuck will pay to have both the county roads upgraded to handle Dad’s tractor trailer rigs, and a road on his property connecting them of the same standard. Dad will pay to have his new facility built on Uncle Chuck’s land. If Dad sets this up as his main terminal and the existing operations as a sub-terminal for use only as a collection point for the clients in that area, he can sell off half his existing land for a good profit because it’s used to park trucks overnight, and they would now be parked at the new terminal.

Dad likes the idea because the truck terminal doesn’t use many buildings, but does use a lot of open land for the trucks to move about in and park when not in use. By upgrading both roads Dad’s trucks can take the turn off at the truck stop and cut across the back of the area to the industrial estate, saving about forty miles traveling in distance as well as avoiding a large amount of city traffic, and save over an hour’s time between the two points. Most of Dad’s traffic goes in that direction, so this is a significant saving in time, fuel, and money. Since the land they’ll be crossing is private property the other trucking firms will have to come to an arrangement with Uncle Chuck if they want to keep pace with Dad. I laugh when I realize this. This saves Dad from having to invest heavily in land again, and it also frees up money for use by the family as well as Dad’s business.

The sticking point is the loan of my money. Uncle Chuck needs my money to get the project running properly, and I won’t need it for a few years. By then the interest will be in the bank and it can pay for my college tuition. He has to convince me, an easy task since I agree before he finishes asking, convince Mom and Dad, then convince the lawyer who’s my trustee. Dad is easy to convince, and says the worst case is Uncle Chuck defaults and the land becomes mine if we write the contract in a way for that to happen without the need of a mortgage. Mom soon agrees because she knows Uncle Chuck won’t do anything to hurt me. The lawyer takes some convincing.

Mom asks, “Charles, why not make Charlene a partner and use her money as her share of ownership?” Mom always uses people’s full names; she’s the only person who calls me Charlene and not Charli, and he’s always Charles, not Chuck.

He replies, “Because that way she becomes a partner and shares the risks; if I fail, she ends up with nothing. This way she’s a creditor and has legal recompense against the assets of the business and me. So she doesn’t lose everything if I screw up. Even as an unsecured creditor it just puts her in line behind any secured creditors before she gets paid out, not removing her from the list the way being a partner would. If she wishes to become a partner later, she can buy in and I use the money to pay her loan.”

Mr Hardy, our lawyer, smiles because it’s clear Uncle Chuck isn’t trying to rip me off. The final agreement is for Mr Hardy to also be the lawyer for the business and keep an eye on my investment for me.

The Business

Uncle Chuck brokers a deal with the county to make both roads into high quality roads able to carry the heaviest loads, and they pay half the cost each. Uncle Chuck also has the same company continue the road through his property at the same standard. The road through the property takes an almost straight line from one county road to the other and is about half a mile in from the side boundary. This will allow space for some more businesses on the other side of the road. A quarter mile back from the road we live on (which is Long Street), another road is made parallel to it and crosses behind our house to the mall near us. He also has a road made beside our house, from this new street to Long Street, making it the boundary at this point.

Uncle Chuck displays an unusual sense of humor in naming the streets, and a few other salient points. One of the county roads is called River Road and the other is called Mountain Road. Uncle Chuck names the connecting private road Styx Road; so the directions are written as River - Styx - Mountain - Highway or Highway - Mountain - Styx - River, both of which give most drivers a good laugh. The road running from Styx Road to the mall is called Charon Street and the one beside the house is called Cerberus Street. The section of his land bound by Charon Street, Cerberus Street, the mall, our house and the couple of other houses beside it is about a quarter of a mile long and three hundred feet wide. He arranges for the council to build a decent kids playground and park on this land. He calls it the Mary Stevens Memorial Park. He later erects a plaque there about Master Sergeant Mary Stevens, Silver Star; the plaque has the details of her career and death in the tank Isis at the Battle of Samara.

The area between Styx Road and the mall, for the whole length of Charon Street, is prepared and paved for use by heavy vehicles for an area a mile back from Charon Street on the other side of the street from us. Dad builds his new facility there as a combined terminal, office, and storage unit with plenty of on-site parking. In the section bound by Long Street, Styx Road, and Charon Street one of the major petrol companies builds a huge truck stop and petrol depot for trucks with a car / truck wash. It also has a restaurant and fast food section built in it. Beside that is built a big workshop for the service and repair of trucks and cars. This is leased to a family of four good mechanics we know. They’d trouble getting set up elsewhere because they couldn’t afford all the equipment, while this is fully equipped and should be enough business for all the family, in either the workshop or its office.

I got curious, because all this required more money than I knew Uncle Chuck had, so I asked Mr Hardy about it. He laughs, and says, “Your money and Chuck’s was enough to pay for the roads and the taxes for five years in advance. Once the roads were in the value of the property went up from two million to thirty million, and the banks were only too happy to loan Chuck another fifteen million to do the extra paving and build stage one. The lease fees on stage one will be over a million a year, when it’s finished. All up, the company should clear around five or six million a year in lease fees, once the whole estate is leased.” I’m dumbfounded, because Uncle Chuck is fast becoming a major businessman in the area. Mr Hardy coughs, and blushes. I look at him, and he says, “I hope you don’t mind, when I looked at Chuck’s full financial costs and plans I felt he was over extending himself to start with, and the project was at risk because of it. When reviewing the budget I noticed it would be a safer financial set up if he didn’t have to pay you the monthly interest, because that was more than what his budget was out of balance by.” He blushes again, and I just smile while I nod, half expecting what he’s about to say. Gulping hard, he says, “While we were still setting up the company papers I converted your loan to being a percentage share of the project ownership. I had a hard time convincing Chuck, because he was more concerned about covering your investment than his. He finally agreed, but only if I promised to be the one to tell you. I took the risk, because I know how much you support your uncle and I felt it was safe. Luckily for me, the increase in the company value has gone ahead more than we expected. I’d expected to double your money, but your seven million is now worth just on twenty million dollars, based on the company’s net worth.” I just sit there staring at him while he smiles at me. He says, “Nearly all of that’s in company assets, but we expect to have some cash dividends for you owners by the end of the first year.” I just nod and thank him, before I leave the office.

When I get home I must have still looked shell shocked, because Mom asks me, “Just been talking to Mister Hardy, have you?” I nod. “How’s it feel to be one of the most valuable business women in the state, and the most valuable kid in the county?”

Sort of coming awake, I ask, “Who else knows?”

Mom smiles, “Your father, Charles, Mister Hardy, you, and me.”

Smiling, I nod, saying, “Keep it that way, for now, please.” She nods.

Within six months of Dad moving his terminal to Styx Road all the other transport companies operating in town have moved to larger new terminals in Styx Road as well. So has a major food distribution center that needed a lot more space. The whole of one side of Charon Road is taken up by Dad’s operation and some buildings that are part of Uncle Chuck’s other operations, but they don’t appear to have decided how much for each yet, because the main truck parking area is between them and there’s no fence there.

Within a year the whole of Styx Road and Charon Street are leased out. The section between Cerberus Street and Styx Road are all businesses with entrances on both Charon Street and Long Road. All are the sort that do business with the residents as well as the businesses in the estate. There’s a lot of traffic along Charon Street to and from the mall, too. Roads are under construction to allow access to sites in the rest of the estate. All of these roads end up back on Styx Road. The only exits from the industrial estate are Styx Road, Charon Street, and Cerberus Street. All the roads in the industrial estate are three lanes each way, except Cerberus Street - it’s only two lanes each way. Every site has plenty of off street parking as well. All the roads are built to take very heavy loads, and be long lasting with very little maintenance.

About eighteen months after starting work on it the site is fully developed with all the services and utilities underground. The last site between Charon Street and Long Road is the length of Cerberus Street, and is leased. It’s a combined Fire Station / Ambulance / Emergency Rescue Service / Police complex. It’s a good idea to have such services close to the industrial estate, but they’re located closer to the residential area in a place where they can respond very fast to both areas. When I realized this I also realized Uncle Chuck had planned the majority of his clients and their locations in the estate before he even laid the first road. Boy, that’s some long term planning ability he has. About a third of the estate is still to be leased out, but the lease fees are already at four hundred thousand dollars per month. That’s a lot of income with little expenditure beyond a very small office staff and the bank loan, which is being paid off at a much quicker rate than it has to be paid off at.

Some More of the Business

As well as the land development business Uncle Chuck has some buildings put up on the corner of Charon Street nearest the mall. They seem a rather odd collection of buildings.

One is a long building running along one side of the mall’s car park. People visiting the mall can easily walk across the car park and enter this building. The end away from Charon Street is taken up by an Internet cafe and video games arcade business with some very heavy duty simulator stations built into them for a new game called ‘Hell Ground Hounds.’ I checked, and found nothing on the Internet about the game, and the only place it’s played is in this arcade Uncle Chuck set up. The cafe and games shop take up about half of this half mile long building, and the game is very heavily utilized by the local teens. The other half is leased out to a whole bunch of small specialty shops, including a top line gun shop with an armory and an indoor range.

A section of land, about three miles deep and two miles wide, from the end of this building and reaching across the back of the rest of the mall and houses beside it is made into two driver courses. One is much smaller than the other, and is also used as a go-kart track. That’s nearest the building and mall car park. The other is a very large affair with many roads four lanes wide and some only two lanes wide. In the cafe you can book time on the go-kart track and driving lessons for cars or trucks up to tractor trailer rigs. The initial lessons are done on this track before you’re taken out on the roads in the area.

Behind this building he has a workshop and warehouse facility that is a quarter mile by a quarter mile, with another warehouse the same size beside that. The workshop is nearest the driver training tracks and the vehicles for the tracks are stored in there.

Soon after these warehouses are set up a large number of heavy transports arrive with big loads that are unloaded into the warehouses. Uncle Chuck also arranges for Dad to send trucks out to collect about twenty trailer loads of goods from interstate, and these are stored in the warehouses, too.

As soon as Uncle Chuck needs staff he starts calling people he knows. At first it’s a bit unsettling to see people turning up in wheelchairs or missing bits, but we soon get used to it. Don’t need to have all your bits and full fitness to be able to do many jobs, so Uncle Chuck never worries about it. He always tailors the job needs to suit the person’s capabilities. By the time everything is up and running he’s employing all one hundred and thirteen survivors of his brigade who don’t need constant daily hospital care. Many need regular visits to the hospital each month or so, but all are discharged from hospital. He even helps them find housing in the area, and it’s close to their work. A large number of the brigade’s technical people are employed in his workshop as well.

No matter how often I ask, he never tells me about what goes on in his warehouses or workshop, beyond saying, “Wait and see, your Dad is going to go crazy when he finds out.” Dad doesn’t like surprises, so this worries me - a lot.

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Story tagged with:
Science Fiction / Near Future / Violence / War / Military /