We dressed very conservatively – non-descript high end pantsuits, flat black shoes with minor heels, no makeup and hair pulled back into pony tails. Also, we each carried a scarf. I knew the rules for this part of the world – there was no need to make waves.
The five OPEC ministers we were to meet were in a group meeting at 0800 dealing with OPEC business. Our meeting with them was at 1100.
After arriving we were shown to a large elegant elaborately decorated room to wait. Majestic curved tables with chairs were positioned and we were shown where we were to sit. I read the official instructions and conduct for guests for this meeting.
A pecking order had been established as to the seating order. I was to the front of the curve, to my right were Charles, Milton and the attorneys. To my left were my girls. Behind all of us was my security detail.
We were to be notified when the leaders were coming down the hall so we could be at the table. They were to assemble behind a table on the other side where they would hold a private conference and once they were ready, they would walk around the table and approach us to begin an informal conversation before announcing they were ready to conduct business.
It was at this point I stopped and stared at the instructions. We were to offer gifts as a token of friendship and trust to each of the ministers. No one had said to bring any gifts and there certainly was no time to go find any.
I cornered Charles, Milton and the attorneys about the discrepancy. After much searching, they found out they had been given a rough draft and not the final draft for the conduct of this meeting.
To conduct the meeting without the gift offering would be considered an insult to the royal Ministers, Emirs and King of Saudi Arabia who was the primary signatory. To insult them could be catastrophic.
It was then I remembered the rolls of gold coins from yesterday’s meeting. They were still in my portable office that was being held by one of my bodyguards.
I went to the case and removed one roll and the promotional sheets I had been given while Charles, Milton and the attorneys were in a panic.
”Will these do?” as I opened the roll and the coins rattled onto the table, getting everyone’s attention.
”Absolutely!” the attorney said as he handed me the coin back that had made the rounds to the right. The girls had one, looking at one had made the rounds to the left.
When I looked up the King and leaders were in front of their table staring at the coins in front of me.
I guess gold coins pique interest, even when you have the most wealth there is in the world.
The King of Saudi Arabia walked to the table – still staring closely – followed by the others.
I stood and started to hand him a coin. An aide stepped to block my hand, only to be waved off by the King as he took the coin.
”I have not seen one of these before. I have the twenty dollar gold piece,” he said as he looked at the coin intently. First turning it in his fingers feeling the engravings and the stamping marks, then at the fine polished look.
”They are a new issue and are not to be released to the public until next month. These are the first from the mint – they call them director proofs. We inspected and approved them at the director meeting yesterday.”
”You are the first non-bank officials that I know of to have one as a gift from JBG for friendship, trust and hopefully, a long business relationship,” I said as I gave one to each of the leaders, trying to remember the lines from the instructions.
”I accept your gift of friendship and trust. We have many mutual interests and many mutual friends as well as enemies,” he said.
Then the King broke decades of tradition; he reached out and shook my hand as did the others. Cameras rolling, room lit by camera flashes. The gasps from the Arab media were enough to be a distraction.
”We know your reputation, your valor and your determination. I understand you are called Lioness. Lioness may not be sufficient to describe your skills of the hunt and conquest,” he said.
The rest of the signings went smooth and fast; again, final handshakes and again, more traditions broken. Usually in pictures with the leaders, the guests were always facing them. There were pictures this time with us standing with them and shaking hands with their advisors and key people.
The final papers were the advance payment for logistics and site setups and the first three years of a ten year contract. I handed Marcy the royal check for seven hundred and fifty million dollars. She could breathe easier now.
Another news conference for the Arab world and one for the US viewing area and politics.
An hour later we were back on the business jet faxing forms, copies and contracts to the ship builders. We watched the Arab media go through convulsions over the change of tradition on the TV and its implications in years to come before we flew east. Israel was to be first, then Germany.
The media was out in full force at the Hamburg International Airport. They picked up the N numbers of the plane from the videos of us departing Dubai, we were being followed.
The media was against the fence calling and yelling. I sent the security team over and the girls and I followed.
I answered questions for fifteen minutes before the boat manufacturer walked across the tarmac with all the contracts. The business table and office section worked out perfectly.
I was happy with that; I didn’t need to be followed by a caravan of paparazzi around Germany. An hour later we were headed home. I was beginning to like the business jet over the G5.
We watched ZNN on the way home. They were still running fillers and updates on Mexico. The pundits were dissecting the events in Dubai and Mexico and wondering what the hell JBG was doing and where we were going.
This contract and the press conference had broken the news of our coastal patrol division. There had been maps of the potential base sites and the Strait of Hormuz. The pundits were speculating in overtime.
The long trip allowed us to make more decisions; one was to make a fixed firm offer for the closed shopping center again, this time with a ten day to closing schedule and a slight price reduction. They could take it or leave this time, but they needed to be in or out quick.
It would be the new forensics lab for the drug data and other things. It would take aggressive conversion to make it secure and dozens of vaults to store the stuff in. Doc Burns’ medical group sent their needs to a lab in Baltimore. I wanted to be able to walk in and look at data or raise hell with someone.
One major problem was a contractor. Most of Bobs Construction was in Mexico and would be there for several months. I wondered if his second team was up to the task? Only one way to find out.
Andy called from Fort Dean when we were over the Atlantic. We had been watching the Bull’s compound several different ways. A CIA satellite flew over every three hours and of that three hours, we had a window view of the compound for ninety minutes – if the controllers ordered the cameras locked on that location.
There was no need for a lock, I just needed a series of pictures to look for changes at first. As the days went by it was apparent that the compound was being fortified.
Andy added to the CIA information by having a team of former Special Forces maneuver through the terrain and set up a camp for the sole purpose of keeping our large drone – at five thousand feet – watching both morning and night.
The security wall was a square with towers at each corner like an old Spanish fort. There were sand bags added on top and around the base of the towers.
The restricted access gate was in the front of the compound and had more sandbags at the ends.
There had been no sign of the Bull for a week, only construction. On day eight Robert’s equipment picked up a series of calls from Guatemala to the compound. The calls increased for several days. They at first fell into the general housekeeping calls, wanting to know about the progress on work on the compound.
On day twelve the number of armed men doubled around the compound and a regular patrol around the interior and exterior began. The Bull was soon coming home.
Edit by Alfmeister
Proof read by Bob W.