The flashing neon sign outside the club had led tourists from around the world into the club for many years. But Memphians enjoyed it too, not a tourist trap or a curiosity to them, but a landmark built by an icon they all knew and loved. John had B. B. appear at the many events marking an opening of a club, like John’s ‘Tobacco Road’ in Miami, or when he wanted the rooftop parties on top of The Peabody to be extra special. Tonight would be more than a reunion for the Memphis gang, John’s Memphis Mafia, but also, unbeknownst to all that were to attend, a planning session.
The night, as were most, was ablaze with people having a good time.Even though B. B. wasn’t on stage, he always made sure there was a kick-ass band, one that could play good Memphis Blues music.Arthur and David, who came in late, making sure that none of Marvin’s goons had followed them, joined Ophelia, Harmon, and Miguel. The whole group shared a huge plate of Memphis barbeque while they listened to the music.The trumpets were blaring as Ophelia leaned over to Arthur and David.
“What will you guys do now?” she asked, seemingly surprising them both.
Arthur and David just looked at each other as if it were a stupid question.They had more money than they ever had any idea what do with thanks to John’s bequest in the will, but they couldn’t stay at The Peabody; they knew Marvin and Hennie had already given the orders that they be fired.They knew all along what they wanted to do.
EXCERPT:The Memphis Kingmaker
John’s son Marvin hated it when John came back home. He and Hennie loved running the show while he was gone, or at least thinking they were. John had Harmon place loyal troops in key positions to ensure that Marvin and Hennie wouldn’t get too bold with the business while John was otherwise occupying himself in Atlanta or anywhere else in the world.
John had already suffered the casualty of seeing his son Hank flee the chaos and treachery that Marvin and Hennie pulled down over the business like a pall. But John was content that Hank had prospered on his own, raising a family outside the Thompson umbrella. Anyway, John would always take care of Hank.
Back in Atlanta, Ophelia was still reeling from the whirlwind real estate deal, the easiest one she had ever closed. It was a very straightforward deal. It was only a vacant lot, but a strategically placed one right in the middle of the Thompson Underground Atlanta. Although she had no idea as to what John was planning for the site, if what she had seen in her visits to Memphis were any clues, she knew he had something up his sleeve.
It was all very simple to John. Synergy, pure synergy. He already had Harmon working on a contingency plan in case The Memphis Blues and Atlanta Braves would face each other in The Series. John had contacts in all the television networks and had a plan to use them well if and when The Series were to shake out that way.
Live remotes from Beale Street on the days The Blues played at home and the same from The Underground when the Braves hosted. Earned media, free advertising, just like back in the good old days with the Memphis Commercial Appeal.
It was in that business sense that John arranged the next meeting with Ophelia. He had done his homework on her. Money can buy a lot of information in the business world and John put Harmon and his network to task finding out all about her, who she was, where she came from, whether or not she could be trusted.
John sat on the rooftop, his now private rooftop at The Peabody in Memphis and read the dossier on Ophelia. It read almost like his early biography, as if she were a second generation ‘go-getter’ as the old Senator might have said. Hell, if the Senator had allowed women into his circle, in that time, Ophelia would have been there. If John were to bet, she probably even smoked cigars.
As he read on, it was apparent that Franklin, Georgia was most obviously a lot like Slabtown, Tennessee, John thought. At thirty-four, she was in an early stage of her real estate career having made her way out of Franklin, saving money for college at Auburn University, making a few money-making deals on her own and then on to Atlanta to make it big in the booming market there while working for Charles Waller.