Chapter 9 of
Since the opening of the dorm, all the staff had been eating their meals there. Even Tessa and the office staff took lunch and sometimes even dinner at the dorm. At Tessa's insistence, Bill's construction crew were invited to lunch there as well. It took him, and them, a few days to figure out why. With four chefs there now, food items were being perfected before making final approval for the park menu. Everyone loved the snacks, treats and desserts.
The chef for Wild Forest was Hank Thompson. Originally from El Paso, he had wandered around the Western states for several years before Tessa found him in Denver. He had been considering opening his own place, but lacked the funds. Tessa's patented 'only the stupid would refuse' offer had him throwing everything he owned into a rented truck and almost breaking every speed limit to get to Bayleston.
Hank knew Southwestern cuisine. From the finest Steakhouse in Ft.Worth to enchilada trucks around San Diego, Chili con Carne from El Paso to Barbecued Buffalo from Cheyenne. He spoke with a Texas drawl but was so fluent in Spanish, one would think he was raised in barrios. With his cooking knowledge also came a personal list of suppliers that ranged from Galveston, Texas all the way up into Philipsburg, Montana. All of which could and did ship within twenty-four hours.
For SeaSide was a woman named Joann Caulder. Her experience started as a teenager working summers at Coney Island until she turned eighteen. From then on she wintered in Florida and summered in Vermont and Maine making stops along the way. Clam chowder from Boston, cheesesteaks from Philidelphia, comfort foods from Georgia and the Carolinas, Italian classics from New York City. She had even learned a family's secret art to making Polish sausage as well as many Cuban sandwich favorites.
SnowyHill's chef hailed from Squaw Valley, but had also spent time in Lake Placid, New York. Aspirations of becoming a champion skier were shattered, along with his right leg in an accident at seventeen years old. The lure of the events stayed though and he traveled back and forth between the two major locations, eventually learning cooking to support his trips. Casey Malorian learned from several international chefs along with locals making favorites and took those lessons with him everywhere he went. He had even spent time in Aspen and Park City. On a whim even went up to Alaska. What he found funny, was the fact that he had previously had to learn ice cream making. For some bizarre reason, people ate just as much ice cream in winter as they did in summer, sometimes even more so.
That particular day, Hank was running the kitchen and for lunch was barbecue. He had a couple of the welders build a smoker and a pair of brick-layers built a barbecue pit. Burgers, baby-back ribs, beef long ribs, brisket, chicken quarters and pulled pork sandwiches were the options. For sides he had three types of coleslaw, two types of beans, green and potato salads. Of course there were fries as well. For dessert were pies and cobblers. The staff were vocal in their appreciation, but the construction crew became a bit rowdy.
Bill went over to one table shaking his head. "I know the eatin' is damn good, but you all are sounding like a bunch of gorillas raiding a banana truck."
"Sorry Bill, but this here's the best damned barbecue I ever had!" Grady replied.
The rest of the table nodded and simply grunted in support.
Hank wandered over and tilted back his Ft. Worth Stockyards ballcap and chuckled. "I appreciate that. It sure is fun cooking like this, I can't wait til the park opens. I'm glad I answered that call."
"Queen Tessa sure finds some great folk to work here." Rob the crane operator said then held up his glass of iced tea. "QUEEN TESSA!"
The whole cafeteria echoed. "QUEEN TESSA!"
From the doorway a voice called back. "Are you all trying to make me blush?"
Rob looked sheepish as he stood up. "Sorry Ma'am. Didn't see you'd come in. It is true though, you found great people for the park. I know you didn't have to let us eat here, but thank you Ma'am. It's great every day, I know I ain't the only one looking forward to the next day."
Tessa stood middle of the room now. "Well, tomorrow, you ladies and gentlemen get your chance to show that appreciation to our chefs. The plans for the concessions are in Bill's office and building starts tomorrow I've been told."
"That's right, Your Ladyship. We start on those first thing in the morning. We're going to have at least two weeks of good weather. The crews finished the slabs yesterday so tomorrow we start on the buildings themselves." Bill confirmed.
Tessa nodded back. "Good. Our target date for the grand opening is June first. Right now, it looks like we'll make it. The soft opening will be May twentieth. That's a Saturday. Princesses, will you be ready?"
All three stood up. "Yes, Queen Tessa."
"We're excited to start rehearsing in the lagoon." Danica said. "Our dry show is ready though. All our music is done and the recordings for the wet show are done. Our show-tails are almost ready."
Michelle nodded. "The Saloon show is ready. The costumes are finished."
"We good on th' Bayou, yeah." Nicole smiled then laughed. "First Fais do-do nobody drunk."
Several laughed with her, including Tessa.
Tessa nodded. "Well that just means that all the applause and laughs are real. I think that'll mean more to you and your cast."
"Oui, Reine Tessa." Nicole said and gave a curtsy.
"Then all we have left, is to finish it. I have the right people, make it happen." Tessa said.
Noisily everyone collected up their trays and turned them in then went back to work.
The weather held for eighteen days. Almost all the concession buildings stood ready with only minor exterior work remaining. Four days of on and off rain slowed the work down, but when it cleared the crews came back with a vengeance. The interior work was able to continue despite the rain. Ten days later, the equipping of the concessions began and the services came online.
For lunch, the work crews began visit a different area of the park every day according to a posted notice to direct them to the correct area. With the exception of the chef and two dedicated members per kitchen, the rest of the kitchen staff rotated areas daily. It had been agreed that more culinary personnel would be hired closer to opening. The cafeteria crew would be hired then as well. Each of the four chefs' assistants would take turns running the dorm kitchen crew. This would prepare the assistant chefs to cover for the chefs in event of illness or other reasons. It gave them opportunities to experiment as well.
All the sound systems were being checked then used. Rock and country blared at the various work areas depending on the crews. Drones could be seen zipping around individually and in formations. There were two types. One was brightly colored and very attention grabbing that moved very slow. Nine looked plain and could move very fast. The crew could see that whoever was operating the fast drones were clearly very skilled. Drones would race in at full speed then abruptly go into a hover at a safe distance and orbit, keeping its front focused on whatever the operator was interested in.
Fencing went up around areas to keep people out of restricted zones. Fence that couldn't be climbed or slipped through by even the smallest child. Cameras were being installed by Dave and his crew at the same time. Some were static and others could sweep. All had high resolution capabilities that surpassed any being installed on casino floors in Las Vegas. The cameras could zoom in to read the time on a ladies' evening watch at three hundred feet, even in the dark. Someone had come up with the very clever idea of CO2 emitters at certain points to lure away any mosquitoes from the congested areas of the park. This was also became prime locations for purple martins, dragonflies and various other natural pest control.
The landscaping crew nodded to that as well and introduced concealed plants that were actually predatory to insects. Flowering plants were set back from walkways as they attracted bees as well as hummingbirds and butterflies. With them out of reach, it decreased the chances of stings. Wasp traps would be placed as well, but concealed or camouflaged to not attract people's attention. Fountains and other water features would have chemicals added to the water that killed insect larvae.
Jimmy Sloan adjusted the ballcap on his head as he looked at the group of black shirt and ballcap wearing people.
"Jimmy was previously with the local Sheriff's office." Dave Wells announced. "He pulled a Lieutenant Dan on Tessa."
The other members of Security chuckled at the Forrest Gump reference.
Jimmy chuckled. "Yeah. I did. That's ok. I think I may have made a good career choice. Just so you all know, I also took the Security guard course while I was at the Academy. I'm also Red Cross certified for First Aid and CPR."
"Jimmy will be working with Main-Force security." Dave informed them. "We have more people coming in later on for that. Jimmy you work under Tom. Tom is from Vegas and was an MP at Nellis."
Tom stood up and waved him over. Jimmy noted one man wore a red shirt and hat, but also had a badge.
Dave pointed to Mark, who stood up. "Mark is the Primary First Responder. He'll be in charge of the Park Medics, but he also is Security. Liz, would you stand up?"
A young woman stood up. Unlike those with black shirts, she wore a dark purple shirt with a shepherd's crook above the park logo.
"Liz will be leading a team of ladies in Security with a very specific job. They will be the working the Wanderer-system. This is an updated system that uses tracking bracelets for children under the age of twelve. Its very similar to systems used by indoor playlands and that Invisible Fence thing. At the gates, a child under the age of twelve is issued a bracelet. The child and accompanying parents are photographed and linked to the bracelet's chip. If the bracelet crosses an invisible cable, alarms go off and park goes into lock-down. That's basic and other systems use the same method. Our system goes further. The location is GPS tagged and it registers on the monitors for Over-Watch." Dave explained.
A hand was raised and at Dave's nod, the man stood up. "Sir; That's all good, but if a predator takes the child, won't they have planned for that and try to cut the bracelet off?"
Dave smiled. "They can try. The band of the bracelet is a high-strength alloy coated with a safe med-grade silicone sheath. Once it's on, only Liz or her team can get them off. Each size comes with its own special key. The sizes are color-coded. The sensor and transmitter assembly are contained in a module of the same alloy and coated with the same silicone sheath. The fit will be comfortable but not slack. It takes five minutes with an industrial cutter to get through the band. The connection is underneath the module, so it can't be forced and the locks and key are unique to the product. A person can't get a replacement. If we lose a key, then a new batch is ordered and the old is sent back to be re-keyed."
"Damn that's smart!" Another of the group commented.
"Oh it gets better. All doors into restricted areas are chipped. All cast and staff wear a bracelet of their own with the RFID chip in them and there is a camera that snaps their picture at the same time. So even if an intruder gains access, we can identify them. There are only two ways in and out of the park. The front gate and the back. The back gate is manned so there's no sneaking in or out. Now just in case you haven't noticed, all Security personnel are former LEO or Prior Service. This is intentional. Only people that can be trusted can know our strengths and weaknesses. Every person that comes here is OUR responsibility. Something happens to them, it's on US. Inside the gate, they belong to us and we will care for them jealously. Watch over them. Guide them. Care for them. Do NOT however interfere with their fun unless a safety concern arises. Hoo-ahh?" Dave asked.
Several ex-army members yelled back. "HOO-AHH Captain!"
Those who were former Marines weren't to be out-done and yelled even louder. "HOO-RAH Skipper!"
Zeke knew the meeting was closing and called out. "ATTENTION ON DECK!"
Almost as one everyone bolted to their feet and saluted.
Dave stood attention himself and returned the salute. "Outstanding. That is all. Fall Out!"
Everyone made their way out and into their specific groups. Dave looked on in approval. Slowly but surely, they were reminding him what it was like to be a leader of troops with a purpose. They understood him, he understood them. Nothing else in the world felt like it and he wouldn't trade for anything.
"Ma'am? Mayor Oberlin is here." Leslie informed Tessa over the intercom.
Tessa replied. "Send her in Leslie."
The office door opened and Mayor Elaine Oberlin entered with a smile.
"Thank you for seeing me Miss Frost." Elaine said, shaking hands.
Tessa nodded and gestured to the chair opposite. "Welcome. Have a seat, please."
Elaine sat down. "I won't beat around the bush Miss Frost. Rumors are running wild about town now about the park. Could I get some information?"
"I guess the important things first. Soft opening will be May Twentieth and the official Grand Opening on June First. Yourself, the Governor and certain other local dignitaries will be invited for that. Media coverage will be local television, radio and newspapers. Also national travel personalities will be invited, lots of camera coverage." Tessa said then smiled. "You'll definitely want to look your best, Mayor."
Elaine laughed. "Any suggestions, I'd hate to clash."
"Well, you'd want to project a charming image. Perhaps a tea-dress. As for me, I'll be in a full gown as will my princesses." Tessa replied.
Elaine smiled. "Full regalia for the Queen and her court?"
Tessa nodded. "Pretty much. I'll be in white, Princess Nicole in purple, Princess Danica in blue and Princess Michelle in green."
"That sounds lovely! I'm very interested." Elaine sat waiting eagerly.
Tessa sat back in her chair. "I see. You want the FULL low-down."
"May I? Please?" Elaine tried patented sad-eye look number 4.
Tessa laughed. "Alright. But only the highlights!"
Tessa stood up and led her over to the drawing on the wall. "VentureRealm Amusement Park. It's sectioned off into four areas."
"I'd love to take a picture, but I'm afraid you would give me a stern talking to!" Elaine gushed.
Tessa nodded. "That's right. Here on the south end is Storm Bayou where Princess Nicole reigns. It's Cajun themed and there's lots of authentic food. Several games and souvenir shops. Children's and thrills rides. The main feature is Princess Nicole's Fais Do-do. Its a Cajun show; songs, dances and comedy."
"Oh WOW! That's something to look forward to!" Elaine smiled.
Tessa pointed to the drawing again. "Moving on, you go into SeaSide. Princess Danica reigns over the Mer-people there." Tessa pointed on the drawing. "The cuisine ranges up and down the Eastern seaboard as do the attractions' theme. The rides also. The main feature, of course, is Princess Danica's Merpeople show in the lagoon. There is also a 'dry-show' as well, between the lagoon showtimes."
"Really? So they will perform out of the water as well?" Elaine asked.
"Songs and dances." Tessa nodded.
Elaine looked impressed. "I'd say all that alone makes the trip, but I am under the impression there is lots more."
"From SeaSide you go into SnowyHill, my official domain. Winter themed wonderland. There is a show, but I'm not in it. It's presided over by Old Man Winter. The rides and games there have the same theme and the food ranges across the North. I wander around periodically during the open hours." Tessa explained.
Elaine nodded. "Well I can see how you would be too busy running the park to be a full-time performer."
Tessa laughed. "Not hardly! I couldn't carry a tune if it came in a basket! I have been taking some dancing lessons, but it's not my strong suit."
Elaine blushed. "I guess I put my foot in my mouth on that one!"
"Moving into the last area, Wild Forest. Princess Michelle is over that. It's more of a Western theme for the food, rides and games. Michelle has a Saloon show. Songs, dances and comedy. There are other features there, but I'd like to tell you about some crafts there. We'll have some craft-workers from Western Native tribes with shops there. Navajo rug makers and Pueblo turquoise jewelry, just to name a couple that have accepted my invitation." Tessa said proudly.
The Mayor was impressed. "Fantastic! The people get to watch the items being made?"
"Of course. That's what really draws people in. They get to see it come to shape right in front of them. For those shops, the bulk of the revenue goes to the tribes they represent, I get a small percentage that is more like shop rental." Tessa informed her.
"All that sounds incredible. I'd like to ask about safety." Elaine said.
Tessa nodded. "Four teams of responders. A paramedic and EMT per team. One team works an area of the park. Two full time Registered Nurses at the aid station. One Paramedic as group leader and First Responder."
Elaine looked surprised. "Wow. That's very reassuring."
"Every member of the Security Force is either prior military or law enforcement. Many served in combat and therefore take their duties seriously. There's more, but I'd rather not go into detail. I will say that the safety and security of our guests is paramount." Tessa said firmly.
"With measures like that, I'd say so! Miss Frost, I am in awe! I am concerned about the job force though. It sounds like many are coming from outside the area." Elaine pointed out.
Tessa admitted. "Many are from out of the area, but a higher percentage are local. However, due to demand, not all of the staff can be found locally that meet requirements."
"I've heard that you prioritize LGBT hiring." Elaine remarked.
Tessa nodded. "I do. Is that a problem?"
Elaine shook her head. "Not at all. I'm impressed that you're so bold. I've always supported LGBT rights here in Bayleston, but there's only so much that I can do. I'm thinking that you may do more than I ever will."
"Considering that it affects me personally, to not give LGBT high priority would make me hypocritical." Tessa remarked.
Elaine looked puzzled. "It would? Are you saying that you are lesbian?"
Tessa began laughing and shook her head. "No. I'm transgender. I'm transitioning."
Elaine's jaw dropped. "Really? I couldn't tell, honestly. Wow! I must say, you are quite pretty. I actually had no idea."
A knock at the door interrupted the conversation.
Leslie leaned in. "Ma'am? It's my turn to go to lunch now. SeaSide is serving today."
"Ok Leslie." Tessa nodded then turned back to Elaine. "Care to lunch with me, Mayor?"
Elaine agreed eagerly. "Oh, I'd love to!"
The Mayor spend over half an hour eating, due to conversation and another hour meeting and talking with various cast members. When she finally drove away, she was all smiles.
In April, the crews went to work on the games and attractions. Thanks to the installation of a heating system, the cast of the Mer-people show were now able to begin rehearsing in the lagoon. Cast members for all the shows now began full dress rehearsals in front of cameras and then reviewed the recordings. Of course, being that they were now going at rehearsing the full shows, many errors were found and needed to be fixed.
The first of the Native American crafts-people arrived. The Pueblo jewelers. The shop looked like many buildings found in the Southwest and they liked it. A few days later she received a call. A tribe of the Nakota nation were asking if she would like some performers of tribal dances, drummers and a story teller. Tessa didn't even hesitate and said yes, with the requirement that they have the full costuming. Twenty minutes later, travel arrangements were confirmed. Days later, the Cherokee leather-goods makers were on their way as well.
As games and attractions were completed, the new Human Resources department hired the staff via recommendations from the high school guidance counselors. Each one signed on immediately, but understood that they had the stipulation of graduating. As the final stage of an attraction was coming, the staff for it was brought in and trained. They were taught how the games worked and even helped final work to bring it into service. the same applied to the concessions. As the staff was hired, they were measured for uniforms.
The Costume department did more than just make the mascot suits. They made or ordered all the costumes and uniforms for everyone working at the park. For some things, such as shirts, the process was simple. Plain shirts were ordered and the Costume staff did the silk screening and embroidery themselves. Some items were able to be purchased in bulk, such as polo shirts for the Security, Medical and Hospitality staff. For culinary works, Kitchen Whites could also be ordered in bulk. Areas of the park had a color code. Wild Forest was a green shirt and khaki shorts, skirt or pants to resemble wearing buckskin. Storm Bayou wore gold shirts and green shorts, skirts or pants. Seaside wore pale blue shirts with blue shorts, skirts or pants. SnowyHill wore white shirts with grey shorts, skirts or pants.
Security wore black polo shirts embroidered with a badge above the park logo and name, khaki BDU pants and tactical boots, except for Over-Watch. Over-Watch wore black on black and would not be seen by the guests. Their shirts had a pair of eyes embroidered over the park logo and no names. Medics wore red polo shirts embroidered with the medical insignia over the park logo and name, black BDU pants and tactical boots. Culinary staff wore Kitchen Whites and slip-resistant shoes. Slip-resistant shoes were also required for Concession staff. Hospitality staff wore purple polo shirts with white shorts, skirts or pants.
Hospitality Staff were the people that worked the gate, information desks and other entry services. They wore light purple shirts simply featuring the park logo and their name. They wore white skirts, shorts or pants. Hospitality Staff had a secret as well. Twenty members were actually Security. They were in charge of the Wanderer System for children and called Shepherds. They wore almost the same colors as Hospitality, but had shepherd's crooks embroidered on their dark purple shirts above the park logo and their name. Instead of white; their skirts, shorts and pants were black. They were affectionately referred to as the Bo Peep Platoon by the other members of Security. Another aspect was that all of the Shepherds were either former military or Law Enforcement and mostly parents. Each one had been handpicked by Dave Wells.
The entire park was now almost completely staffed and working on the final stages to finish.
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