Thomas Calabrese — It was going to be a very hot weekend in Oceanside, California. In fact, it was going to be extremely hot all over the west. California, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, were all expected to break heat index records that have stood for decades. It was forecasted to be 122 degree in Woodland Hills in the Los Angeles area, 131 in Death Valley and the San Diego beaches would be hovering near the century mark.
Jenna Fuller was twelve years old and a very enterprising young girl. She turned to her father, Marine Corps Major Tim Fuller at the breakfast table in their rental home in the Ivy Ranch ara of Oceanside as she looked at the temperature on her cellphone, “It’s already 91 degrees.”
Her sister Julie, who was fourteen years old, commented, “I wish we had air conditioning,” then stood in front of the fan to cool herself off.
Tim Fuller responded, “Even if we had central air conditioning, it would still be pretty hard to cool a house like this. We have these high ceilings and our electric bill would skyrocket. When things get this hot, SDG&E wants people to conserve electricity and bad as it might get here, it’s going be much worse inland. Sometimes you’ve got to take one for the team and for your fellow man and woman, but I can compromise…”
“Really, compromise? I didn’t even think that word was in your vocabulary,” Jenna joked.
Home Depot and Lowe’s are probably sold out by this time, but when this heat spell is over, we’ll buy a room air conditioner, then when its gets hot again, we install it in the back bedroom and that way you’ll have one place to stay cool. This heat spell is only going to last about three days, you can hang in there for that long, can’t you?”
“Just because we’re the children of a hard charging Marine doesn’t mean we should have to prove it by living in extreme conditions,” Julie pleaded.
“I think you’ll survive, I’ve got the utmost confidence in your survivor skills,” Major Fuller quipped, “After all I trained you myself.”
“We’ll be fine, don’t worry about us,” Jenna said, “When life gives you lemons…make lemonade.”
“I’ll tell Janet that I’m heading to the base.”
Captain Bill Palmer and his wife, Janet were renting the house two doors down. Janet was an emergency room nurse at Tri-City Medical Center and worked the nightshift three days a week. The Palmers had one son, Connor who was seven years old. Captain Palmer was currently on deployment. Tim Fuller was a widower, his wife passed away three years ago from an allergic reaction to medication. He was now raising his two daughters on his own. Tim knocked on the garage door and it slowly opened. Janet was a tall slender athletic blonde who liked to do triathlons. She was riding her stationary bike and perspiring heavily, “Give me 30 seconds.” Janet sped up for the remainder of the time, then stepped off the bike. She took a towel off a chair and wiped her face and took a long swallow of her energy drink. “Are you going to the base?”
“Yeah, should be home by 1800 hours, is that a problem?” Tim asked.
“No, I’ll walk over to your house and see what the girls want to do,” Janet said.
The Fullers and Palmers had a reciprocal agreement. When Janet was working, her son Connor stayed over with Tim’s daughters. When Tim was at the base, Janet looked out for the girls. On those rare occasions when they were both at work, Mrs. Swilley, a retired schoolteacher, who lived down the street filled in. It was a good situation for all concerned, because the Fullers and Palmers were good neighbors and good Marines who had each other’s backs.
Ten minutes later, Janet walked over to the Fuller home and yelled through the open front window, “It’s just me!”
Jenna opened the door and saw Janet standing before her, “You’re already perspiring, it must be hotter at your house than it is here.”
“I was working out. What are your plans for today?” Janet asked.
“I’m going to put up a lemonade stand in the driveway and see if I can make some money,” Jenna answered.
“I’ll tell you what, give me 20 minutes to take a cold shower and I’ll come back to help you set up.”
“What’s your cut?” Jenna smiled mischievously.
“I’ll take 5 per cent on anything you make over a thousand dollars,” Janet quipped.
“Either you’ve got a lot a faith in my business skills or you know a good deal when you see one.”
“You may never know,” Janet said as she walked away.
Jenna and her father built the stand last summer and she used it for a variety of business ventures that included selling cookies and hot cocoa for several charities. The stand was very professional and had a red and white awning over it. It was mounted on rubber wheels and was easy to move from the backyard to the driveway. There were three lemon trees along the back fence. Jenna and Julie filled three buckets and brought them into the kitchen and began cutting and squeezing the juice out. They were using a recipe that their grandmother gave them. It was a great tasting lemonade with the perfect combination of tart and sweet.
The stand was set up in the driveway and two coolers were filled with ice. Jenna stood there with a big smile encouraging drivers and people walking by to buy a glass. Janet kept a watchful eye on the young girl from her living room window and Julie made sure to keep two large pitchers of lemonade in the refrigerator. It wasn’t about money for the Fuller sisters. On this particular venture they decided to keep a small amount to cover the cost of their ingredients and give the rest to the 4-star charitable foundation, Tunnel 2 Towers.
This charity provides mortgage-free homes to families of first responders and veterans who died in the line of duty. The Fuller sisters were especially pleased that the foundation provides 93% of its donations for its recipients and only uses 7% for operating costs. Business was brisk and Julie was having trouble keeping her sister stocked up with fresh lemonade, so Connor came over to help her cut lemons.
Sergeant Tom Buston was an eighteen-year veteran of the Oceanside Police Department and had been back on patrol for only three weeks after a six month long investigation. During a protest at the Oceanside Harbor three men assaulted an elderly couple. Sergeant Buston intervened to save them and when the assailants pulled their weapons, the police officer killed one and wounded the other two in an intense gun-battle. Sergeant Buston was slightly wounded in the altercation. Even though surveillance cameras showed that he did not return fire until he was fired upon, anti-police groups and anarchists demanded that he be charged and prosecuted. When that did not happen, a bounty of one million dollars was posted on the internet. It wasn’t dead or alive…only dead.
This dedicated police officer would not be deterred or intimidated. As soon as he was cleared of any misconduct, he was back on the streets of Oceanside, serving and protecting its citizens. As he was driving down Via Del Astro, Sergeant Buston saw the lemonade stand and pulled over to the curb and got out. “How’s the lemonade?”
Jenna snapped to attention and she responded, “Thank you for your service, sir. It is great and ice cold, sir.”
“Thank you Ma’am. Please may I have a glass?”
Jenna poured a glass of lemonade and put in several ice cubes and handed it to the police officer, who took a long swallow and smacked his lips, but did not respond.
“Well?” Jenna asked.
“Better than great,” Sergeant Buston smiled, “How about a refill?”
“Absolutely!” Jenna poured another glassful and Sergeant Buston drank it and asked for another.
From her window Janet could see the personable Jenna interacting with the police officer and smiled approvingly. She knew that the young girl was safe so she diverted her attention elsewhere. “That’s three glasses, fifty cents a glass which means I owe you one fifty.” Sergeant Buston pulled out a 10 dollar bill from his pocket and held it out, “Keep the change.”
“No sir,” Jenna responded, “I can’t do that.”
“Excuse me?” Sergeant Buston was obviously confused.
“I don’t accept money from police officers, you make enough sacrifices and take enough risks. This is the least I can do to support first responders.”
“I can’t accept this free,” Sergeant Buston retorted.
“Too late now, you already drank it, what are you going to do, spit it out?” Jenna said playfully.
“What does your father do for work?” Sergeant Buston inquired.
“He’s a Marine.”
“I understand now…thank your father for his service,” Sergeant Buston said.
“I’ll tell you what, next time you open a lemonade stand, you can give me a free glass.”
Janet saw a black SUV with darkly tinted windows come around the corner and slowly drive down the street. It caught her attention as it pulled over to the curb, directly across from where Jenna had her lemonade stand. Janet walked outside to get a closer look and saw the back window come down and the barrel of a weapon slowly appear. She yelled out, “Gun!”
Sergeant Buston spun around and saw the SUV and a quick glimpse of the weapon. He instinctively pushed Jenna out of harm’s way just as the shooter opened fire. Bullets riddled the lemonade stand and the Oceanside police officer took a round to his right thigh. Other individuals in the SUV rolled down their windows and also began shooting. Janet ran back into house to the gun safe in her bedroom and removed a Glock 19 and two magazines and ran back outside. By this time, the shooters had fired at least a dozen rounds into the police cruiser. Julie looked out the window when she heard the gunshots and saw her sister lying behind a stone planter and the wounded police officer in the driveway. Julie’s eyes darted over to Janet firing at the SUV from behind a car. She ran into her father’s bedroom closet and pulled the 12 gauge shotgun from its case and grabbed a box of 00 buckshot and ran to the front window. She loaded it and began firing at the SUV. Just as Janet was going to make a run toward Jenna, another SUV came driving down the street and those occupants began firing as well. Janet turned her attention to it and emptied her magazine into the windshield of the vehicle and it crashed into a light pole and exploded in flames.
By this time, sirens could be heard approaching in the distance. Janet ran into harm’s way to reach the fallen officer and render aid. With her medical training and experience, she knew exactly what to do. She put pressure on the wound to slow the bleeding. Sergeant Buston pulled out his service revolver and returned fire while lying on his back. The Fuller house began taking incoming rounds as the shooters turned their attention to Julie in the house. She dived for cover as the wall mirror shattered next to her.
A dozen Oceanside Police cruisers approached from both ends of the street. The gun battle continued for several more minutes and even after an officer used a bullhorn to encourage the shooters to surrender, “Drop your weapons! You will be killed if you don’t!” The remaining assailants fought until the end. When one of the attackers was seriously wounded, he shot himself in the head rather than be taken captive by the police.
Major Tim Fuller was in a meeting with Colonel Dan Carlson when Sergeant Mike Ortiz knocked on the door and opened it, “Sorry to interrupt, sir, but the military police are here to see Major Fuller.” Gunnery Sergeant Paul Jamison entered, “There has been a shooting at your house.”
Major Fuller’s first question was an obvious one, “Has my family been hurt?”
Gunnery Sergeant Jamison responded, “No sir, according to Janet Palmer, everybody is fine. We’ve got a car waiting for you outside.”
“Keep me posted…good luck,” Colonel Carlson said.
The military police car raced through the base with its lights flashing and siren blaring. When it reached the San Luis Rey gate, an Oceanside police car was waiting. Both vehicles continued to the Heartland neighborhood. Dozens of policemen and firefighters filled the street and the entire area was cordoned off with yellow tape to designate an active crime scene. Jenna and Julie rushed up to their father as soon as he exited the car and embraced him. He quickly surveyed the carnage and destruction, “What the hell happened?”
Janet walked over, “We got lucky, it could have been a lot worse.”
Tim was briefed on what transpired by his daughters and Janet, then waited for them to be interviewed by detectives. Police technicians were collecting evidence and shell casings and the families weren’t allowed back into their homes, so they went to the Marriott Hotel on Rancho Del Oro for the night. The next day, Tim and his daughters visited Sergeant Buston at Tri- City Medical Center. After introducing himself, Tim expressed his heartfelt appreciation, “Jenna told me that you pushed her out of the way and saved her life. I thank you very much for that.”
Sergeant Buston replied, “She wouldn’t have been in danger if I hadn’t stopped to get lemonade. I was the target.”
Tim shook his head in anger, “I don’t like all this rhetoric and violence against law enforcement.”
“Imagine how we feel.” Sergeant Buston replied.
Jenna interjected, “I’ll bring you some lemonade…that should help the healing process.”
Sergeant Buston laughed, “Probably would, but I’ll be out of here in a couple of days anyway.”
Oceanside Police and Marine Corps Intelligence officials were meeting on base about the incident and Captain Grady Norris said, “Our Intel indicates that the group that perpetrated the attack are part of a radical group funded by Iran, the number one sponsor of terrorism in the world.”
Police Chief Bob Duvall, “Seriously, I would never have thought that. Iran funding terrorists in Oceanside, I guess that nothing should surprise me anymore.”
Captain Norris said, “We’ve been in touch with the US Marshals, and they are going to help us.”
“Help us how?”
“Through their witness protection relocation program,” Captain Norris explained, “We have credible Intel that the Fuller and Palmer families have been put on the hit list with Sergeant Buston. We’ve been told by the FBI and Homeland Security that until they can break up this organization, we should take the necessary precautions.”
“We’ll cooperate in any way possible,” Chief Duvall said.
After the shooting, Captain Bill Palmer was recalled from his deployment. Both families, Marine Corps officials and the US Marshals’ Service met to discuss their options. US Marshal Matthew Blake explained, “We have a variety of places that we can send you.”
“What about me?” Captain Palmer asked, “I’m still in the Corps.”
“We figured that you and Major Fuller will move on base temporarily. The security there is more than adequate.”
Janet volunteered, “My brother Bryan Nelson lives in Utah, just East of Eden. He was in real estate in the Bay Area and did really well. He is semi- retired, but owns quite a bit of property in the area. I’m sure if I told him about our situation, he’d be happy to help out.”
“Give me his contact information and we’ll follow up on it,” Matthew Blake said.
Several days later, two large moving vans and two dozen men arrived at the houses of Tim Fuller and Bill Palmer after sunset. Before sunrise everything had been loaded into the trucks and the drivers left..
Bryan Nelson had done very well for himself. He graduated from Stanford University with a degree in computer engineering. While working for Apple Inc. in Cupertino, Bryan quickly moved up in the company, but grew tired of the hectic and overpriced lifestyle of Silicon Valley. He moved to Eden, Utah near the Powder Mountain Ski Resort where he had gone several times to ski. Bryan worked remotely from his rental home and invested in the stock market and local real estate and soon became a very wealthy man. He purchased a six bedroom six bath, 5,387 sq. foot home with a 2 bedroom guest house, swimming pool, barn and corral on a seven-acre parcel of land on Elkhorn Circle for 3.2 million dollars. When the US Marshals contacted Bryan about what happened in Oceanside, he responded without hesitation, “Absolutely, I’ve got more than enough room!” Bryan was very close to his sister and had been trying to convince her to move to Eden when Bill got out of the Marines.
US Marshals from Salt Lake City arrived at the Nelson home and looked the area over, “This will work.” US Marshal Randy Martinez reported back to his supervisors and the approval for the move was granted. Major Fuller and Captain Palmer took 30 days emergency leave to help their families get situated. The US Marshal Service had confiscated a two million dollars custom motorhome from a drug dealer and with two Marshals to help as drivers, the Fullers and Palmers left California for Utah. Bryan was standing in front of his palatial home when they arrived. After everybody exited the motorhome, Bill introduced his fellow Marine to his brother-in-law, “Bryan, this is Tim.”
“My pleasure, “Bryan smiled.
“Thanks for letting my family stay here,” Tim said.
“I thank you for your service,” Bryan gave his sister an affectionate hug, “Good to see you again, sis.”
“I wish it was under different circumstances,” Janet sighed.
“Me too, but I’ll take almost any reason to see you again. You’re probably tired from the drive. Janet, you know the house, why don’t you show the kids around and let them pick out the rooms they like, while I take a walk with Bill and Tim.”
“Which rooms do you want us to use?” Janet asked.
“All of them are available, I moved into the guest house.”
“We don’t want to drive you out of your house,” Janet protested.
“Believe me, you’re doing me a favor by using rooms that are usually empty,” Bryan said, “I actually like the guest house better than this monstrosity.”
“We’ve got furniture on the way, your place is completely furnished,” Janet reminded her brother.
“I’ve got some commercial warehouses, and I had one area cleared out for your stuff. You may want to use your own bed or switch out some items, just tell me and I’ll have it done. I have only one rule when you stay here, and you know what it is.”
“That we are not guests, this is our home and we need to make ourselves comfortable,” Janet replied.
“You remember that and we won’t have any problems,” Bryan said, “Let’s take a walk.”
Bryan led the two Marines to the other side of the house and showed them a fully equipped fitness center, “Just in case you want to work out.” The next stop was a large metal building with four-wheelers, motorcycles, tractor, farming equipment. In one corner were two propane generators in case the power goes off. Hanging down from the rafters were several fire hoses and sitting on the floor beneath them were three high powered gasoline pumps.
“You’ve got a lot of stuff,” Tim commented.
“You haven’t seen anything yet,” Bill said.
The next stop was a small aircraft hangar and inside it was a Bell 205 helicopter, equipped for firefighting or rescue. Bryan commented, “I volunteer my flying to the county, state and the U.S. Forestry Service as long as they maintain the helicopter and pay for the fuel.”
The next stop was a small concrete building with a steel door. Bryan pressed the code on the door and prepared to open it. Bill said, “Wait until you see this.”
When the three men entered, Bryan turned on the light then pressed another code on the wall control panel and several metals doors slowly raised up. There were 50 rifles of all types and just as many pistols in special cabinets.
“Nice…very nice,” Tim commented.
“I guess you could say, I like guns,” Bryan shrugged.
It didn’t take long for Julie, Jenna and Connor to acclimate to their new environment, but eventually Jenna wanted something else to do besides playing with her sister and Connor, “Is there any kind of work I can do around here?”
“I know something that you might be interested in,” Bryan said.
The next day, Janet took the kids down to the Eden Animal Sanctuary of which Bryan was a generous benefactor. They exercised and played with the dogs and cats all day.
“Did you enjoy yourself?” Bryan asked.
“Sure did!” Jenna responded excitedly.
A week later, Sergeant Tom Buston arrived unexpectedly, “I put in my papers to medically retire. Since the FBI told me not to return home, I figured I’d take a trip and see how you were doing.”
“Since you’re here, you might as well stick around a few days,” Bryan offered.
The four men had a lot in common, especially their core values. While skeet shooting down by the lake, Bryan said, “When you get out of the Corps, you should move up here. I can always use good men. Tom, since you’re no longer a police officer, this is a good place to retire. The offer goes for you as well. I can find you something to help supplement your pension. Everybody is pro-military and pro-law enforcement around here. Don’t give me an answer now, but think about it.”
The big house was full of life and laughter and the four men were having as good a time as the kids were. Janet turned to her brother during one festive night while her husband and Tim were barbecuing chicken, steaks, hamburgers and hot dogs. “You’re really enjoying yourself?”
“I can’t remember the last time life was this much fun for me. Everything is clicking on all cylinders. I’m in the moment, there is no place that I’d rather be. I shouldn’t say this, but I am glad what happened in Oceanside, otherwise none of this would be happening,” Bryan whispered and Janet looked around to see Julie playing with Connor in the grass, Jenna was joking around with Sergeant Buston and the two Marines were talking by the grill, “It is good, isn’t it?”
Two weeks later, fires began breaking out all over California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, Idaho and Arizona. Bryan got the call to start making water drops in the Angels Landing area of the forest. Tim, Bill and Tom began getting the firefighting equipment ready to protect the property and structures.
While making water drops, Bryan noticed several men in an isolated area and when he flew lower for a closer look, they began shooting at his helicopter. Bryan radioed back to his house, “I’ve got a visual on several arsonists eight miles due west of the property. I’m taking fire from them.”
Bill and Janet stayed behind to protect the property while Tim and Sergeant Buston got weapons and ammunitions from Bryan’s arsenal and headed out in a four wheel drive pick-up. They drove west toward the raging fire and were directed by Bryan toward the Jeep Grand Cherokee. As they came over the crest of the hill, with fire on both sides of them, Tim stopped when he saw the vehicle approaching. Both men got out of the vehicle and took aim at the arsonists. Bryan flew low over them and they began firing at him. “There’s your confirmation.”
Tim and Sergeant Buston began firing at the approaching vehicle and it veered off the road into the raging inferno. Bryan did a water dump right over Tim and Sergeant Buston, which gave them an escape route through the expanding blaze. Back at the Elkhorn Circle property, Janet and Bill kept the fire from breeching the perimeter. Two days later, the weather cooled off and the fires were controlled and eventually extinguished. It was later found out that the arsonists were part of the same terrorist organization that had placed the bounty on Sergeant Tom Buston.
Since he was no longer employed and he liked the area, the retired Oceanside police officer accepted Bryan’s offer to stay in Eden, Utah. Together, they started a security consulting business. Janet did not let her medical experience go to waste and began working with the local veterinarian, she also took a leadership role at the animal sanctuary. Julie, Jenna and Connor enrolled in school and also helped out with the animals. Tim was the first to finish his commitment to the Corps and then returned to Eden to be with his daughters. Bill Palmer followed two years later to rejoin his wife and son. They joined Tom Buston in the security consultant business and with Bryan’s connections, it quickly expanded into a profitable enterprise. Once he tasted Jenna’s lemonade, Bryan decided it could be a lucrative investment. It wasn’t long before Jenna’s Old Fashion Lemonade became a big seller in area stores and then throughout the west. The profits went to support first responders.
Tom Buston, Tim Fuller and Bill Palmer never forgot about the attack in Oceanside and the arsonists. With Bryan’s computer skills, they eventually tracked down the ‘head of the snake’ in Sierra Madre, California. This individual was responsible for funneling money from Iran to anarchists and criminals to create chaos and destruction in America. A plan was developed and the man was eliminated, but the four men were realistic enough to know that someone else would take his place. They vowed to remain vigilant in their duty to protect America. As they drove past the animal sanctuary on their way back from the local airport to their homes located East of Eden, Jenna waved from her refreshment and souvenir stand. Tim called out to his daughter, “See you at home, Lemonade Kid!” The End