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By Houston Cei
Cover by Moira Nelligar
Copyright © 2017 by Houston Cei
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced without permission from the author.
~~ All characters in this book are over 18. ~~
The following story is entirely of the author's imagination. All events and characters are fictional. Any similarities to actual events or real persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
About thirty miles south of Sacramento, the state capitol of California, rests a mid-sized community of about 63,000 residents, a city known as Lodi. This beautiful, historic town has certainly come a long way since Credence Clearwater Rival referred to it in one of their hit songs as a place one wanted to get out of forever. One might wonder what was on John Fogerty's mind while singing to the effect how disastrous it was to be “stuck” in such a town. Well, who knew what and where Lodi was in the 60s? Maybe the artist simply wanted to use the name of an unknown, small town as a metaphor for “nowhere.” In any case, Lodi has developed into a charming and respectable place to live and most of its residents do not feel that they are “stuck” there. This is the heart of the San Joaquin Valley and it is blessed with many wineries that distribute worldwide some of the finest vintage wines for which the Golden State is so famous. Although there is some manufacturing going on now, the original industry of Lodi was simply agricultural.
On the edge of the north side of the city there was a three mile unpaved, private road leading to the five acre ranch of the Sharpe family: David, his wife Evelyn and their daughter Patricia. Evelyn was David’s high school sweetheart who had no interest in higher education after high school, but she stood by David in his quest to become an attorney. She had been raised on a dairy farm so to own a country ranch of her own was a dream she hoped would come true when David would become successful.
Evelyn was from a family of five and was the eldest of her two siblings, a sister and a brother. Since she was their senior by three and four years respectively she learned a sense of responsibility very early in life. Her siblings were very studious and were dismissed from much of the farm work by the parents, but Evelyn did not resent that at all and she was proud that they were both doing so well in school.
Evelyn also loved the outdoors and was a hard worker on her parents’ dairy farm which included several acres of just corn, tomatoes, oranges and lemons. Her father had enough land to grow many more kinds of vegetables and fruit but his farming philosophy was to focus on a few items and do them well rather than have excessive variety. His plan seemed to work very well as they were a successful farming family.
David and Evelyn were married shortly after he was awarded his bachelor’s degree in law, both of them being just twenty-two years of age. Although David was a rather average looking gentleman, standing a slender six feet tall, together they were an attractive couple with Evelyn being the one that stood out. Standing about five feet six, her tiny 22 inch waist accented her hips and breasts to make her body look exceptionally shapely, a type of figure that has been described as of the “hourglass” variety. She had wavy medium lengths auburn hair, big brown eyes with full lashes and her unpainted full lips seemed to be forever smiling. Evelyn usually wore shorts in the summertime displaying a beautiful pair of eye-catching legs, and it might be added that the valley enjoys about six months a year of summer-like weather. When simply strolling along, Evelyn looked like the personification of beauty in motion.
David and Evelyn’s daughter Patricia was born after about a year of marriage, and as a child she was adorable and well behaved and was the delight of their lives. They loved the poetic ring to the sound of her full name they gave her and never called her Pat or Patty; she was always addressed as Patricia. She had inherited red hair and freckles that appear to have skipped a generation so apparently from her grandmother, thus she did not have a striking resemblance to her biological parents. Evelyn kept her daughter’s hair cropped short in a pixie-like style so as a child she looked like a little red headed Tinker Bell with freckles and green eyes.
In grade school Patricia tried to pay attention to the teacher but as the early school years were passing by it was apparent that she was going to be a slow learner. Her parents were very concerned and had her evaluated by a psychologist who concluded that she was definitely not mentally retarded buy simply somewhat slower than normal to comprehend and mature as a person. Another professional opinion was that there were signs of autism, and that in addition to tender, loving care, Patricia needed continued mental stimulation.
Evelyn and David worked diligently with Patricia at home but by the time she was in the fifth grade her reading level was about two grades behind. Then, she failed the sixth grade thus not being able to advance to middle school. David and Evelyn did their best to think positively about the situation and they concluded that the set back of one grade would give Patricia a chance to “catch up” with the other kids.
Patricia was cute but not sexy looking by teen standards, and was not popular at school, but neither was she overtly shunned, perhaps because of the good standing her parents had in the community; however, she was not invited into any of the girls’ cliques. To them, she was simply a nice girl but too immature and not someone who could keep a secret. Patricia had no boyfriend probably because of a lack of sex appeal and also because they tended to be in awe of her father the lawyer who they thought as a man who could sue anyone. On the other hand, the boys were not openly disrespectful to her and many of them were looking forward to their turns on one of Mr. Sharpe’s maritime outings. David kept his yacht anchored at a dock at the San Francisco Bay and would occasionally announce that he would treat the youngsters to an exciting fishing trip for a sure catch of sea bass.
David had earned his Bachelor’s Degree in law by the age of twenty-one and the ambitious young man immediately worked towards his Master’s and graduated from law school at the age of twenty-three and wasted no time taking the Bar exam which he easily passed. David struggled for about three years there in Lodi before getting on track and earning a name for himself as a winner.
Then, his major breakthrough came; it was a high profile sexual harassment case in which the CEO of a large corporation in Sacramento was being sued by an employee who claimed she had been denied a promotion because she refused sexual favors to the boss. When David had first heard of the accusation, he immediately drove from Lodi to Sacramento to offer his services. This was the type of case that was usually settled out of court for a considerable large sum of money, but David assured the CEO that the odds were very high in his favor that he could win the case and surely clear his name. David had done his homework and was confident he could win and the CEO was impressed with his enthusiasm.
David could see that the accuser was in an entry level job with no possible promotion in sight for the near future, and furthermore her current position involved no apparent close contact with upper management. David also found inconsistencies in the woman’s story, and upon research he discovered that she had a history of two other sexual harassment cases in other California cities that were settled out of court for large sums of money. This was an easy one for David and he even had the plaintiff’s lawyer agreeing with him shortly after the cross-examination of the accuser. The case was dismissed and the woman left town and was never heard of again in Sacramento.
The case received national attention and the local front page article was entitled: “SHARPE WAS JUST TOO SHARP!” David was then quickly grabbed by a prestigious law firm in the capital of the Golden State and in a short time proved to be its leading attorney. He was earning over $300,000.00 a year by the age of twenty-six. The daily trek from Lodi to the grand capital city was more than worth the drive.
The couple had planned to have more children but as the years went by with Evelyn’s not getting pregnant their concern directed them to a doctor for physicals. The problem proved to be with David as it appeared that his sperm had lost it its ability to cause fertilization. They graciously accepted the situation and decided not to adopt any children.
It was during his third year of being with the firm that David had earned and saved enough money to buy the ranch that Evelyn had dreamed of during those early difficult years of their marriage. Being a truly outdoors type of person all her life and having been raised on a farm, she already knew how to fertilize the land, plant trees and seeds for crops, and she did all the irrigation and harvesting and marketing all by herself while David was working at the firm in Sacramento. There was a barn where she kept her tractor and plowing equipment which she knew very well how to use.
After about two years, Evelyn was growing oranges, lemons, tomatoes, peppers, onions, corn and squash. She was successfully selling her crops in the local outdoors Farmer’s Market in downtown Lodi, and the local Mexican restaurants enjoyed the white onions, peppers, corn and vine ripened tomatoes. None of the five acres was left barren. There was one sandwich shop in particular that was getting quite well-known for featuring on their sandwiches the fresh vine ripened sliced tomatoes from Evelyn’s harvest. She knew that the store bought tomatoes were a product the public had been disenchanted with for many years so she erected a greenhouse to provide tasty, ripe tomatoes year round. She also set aside a full acre for several boysenberry vines, and these became another signature item for her. One of the local bakeries, like the deli, became well known for the pies and turnovers made from the berries of Evelyn’s vines. In addition to the produce Evelyn also raised chickens for egg production and also resale. She knew that the chickens she sold would be killed for consumption but she was certainly not going to be the one to do the slaughtering; in fact, she was such a sensitive person that she did not even want to think about it.
The mini-farm prospered very well under Evelyn’s care and she never asked David to help but she sometimes hired youngsters from Lodi as part time help around harvest time, and Patricia was one of those paid helpers. Evelyn could see that it was not likely that her daughter would be the collegiate-type so working on the ranch and getting paid was an important part of her learning responsibility and developing into a young woman.
By the time David was in his early thirties he had enjoyed an exceptionally successful career and along with Evelyn’s knack for farming, the family of three enjoyed a comfortable life-style.