The work below is a work of gay male fiction. If such work is offensive to you or you are too young to read it, please exit now. The work is the property of the author. See copyright information in at Chapter One. John Tucker


Chapter Fifteen

Saturday Morning, Ron and Matt’s home

Breakfast turned into a hodge-podge affair. Ron was up early and turned on the coffee pot that Mary had prepared the night before. Rather than waiting for it to brew he had gone out for a run on the jogging path, returning just in time to see Mary deliver a covered tray with an assortment of Danish rolls to the breakfast room. Ron asked for a small tray, then poured coffee for himself and Matt, transferred a few of the sweets to a small plate, placed them along with the coffee and “fixins” on the silver tray before returning to the master suite. Matt was just waking as he entered.

“Morning Boopchin,” Ron greeted his mate with enthusiasm. “I brought you a little something to tide you over until breakfast.

“I’m not in the mood for sex now,” Matt said with his eyes half shut.

“A roll in the hay is not what I had in mind,” responded Ron with a grin as he placed the tray on the nightstand. “How ‘bout a roll on a tray?”

“Uh… Oh… thanks,” his partner said opening his eyes fully. “Mmmm, that coffee smells good.”

“I’d like you to get plenty of rest today,” Ron suggested firmly.

“I really want to be part of what’s going on,” Matt almost whined. “I was bored at the hospital. I want to get up, but I promise I won’t do anything too strenuous. If I get tired, I’ll lay down or take a nap.”

“That will work for me Lover Man. You will get your share of exercise though. The physical therapist is coming at 10:30 this morning.”

“Who is it?” asked Matt.

“I really don’t know,” Ron admitted. “Dr. Parker recommended the guy and told me his name, but for the life of me I can’t remember it. Apparently he’s just out of school and is doing home visits until he gets established.”

“I guess we’ll find out at 10:30,” Matt replied as he poured some cream into his coffee cup, then took a sip. “I may live!” He added after setting the cup back on the saucer.

Ron sat down on the bed beside Matt and ‘decorated’ his own coffee to his liking before lifting the cup to his lips.

“Whew!” Matt exclaimed. “You’re pretty ripe this morning!”

“Hey I got in three miles on the track already! You wouldn’t expect me to come back smelling like a rose would ya?”

Babe, I love the way you smell all the time. It’s just that you smell a little more than usual right now.” Matt said with a grin.

“We can fix that quick enough,” Ron suggested. “I’m ready for my shower. Are you going to join me?”

“Heh, heh, heh,” chuckled Matt. “It’s just what I had in mind.”

                                     *                      *                      *

Nathan and Carl were the next two to enter the breakfast room. They had showered together, repeating their performance of the previous day, before donning sweat suits for their attire.

“I guess we’re the first ones up,” Nathan said looking at the empty room.

“Mary beat us to it,” Carl said pointing out the drinks and rolls on the buffet credenza.

“Let’s see what she has,” suggested Nathan. “From the looks of that pile of pastries, I’m sure we can find something that we like.”

The two older boys walked to the buffet table, picked out rolls that looked inviting, then each poured a glass of milk and a glass of orange juice.

“This should hold us over for awhile,” Carl said as he set his selections on the breakfast table.

“Yeah, about an hour,” Nathan guessed as he joined his roommate.

“I sure hope we can spend some time with the adults this weekend,” said Carl. “Ever since we got here, they’ve been in and out, being gone a lot more than here. I’d really like to get to know each one of them better. I really like everyone, but feel like I don’t know them very well yet.”

“I know what you mean, Carl. We’ve been pretty much on our own. We probably haven’t spent two hours total with Tyler since we arrived, and Matt has been in the hospital the biggest part of the week. Tyler said that Matt would be a good guy to talk with. I hope he feels up to talking, because I’ve got a few things to ask about.”

“Yeah, me too!” agreed Carl. “Ron said we’d talk about sex when I talked with him the other evening and we haven’t hardly seen each other since, except last night when there were a bunch of people around.”

“What do you want to know about sex?” Nathan asked. “I told you that I would teach you every thing I know.”

“Believe me, I can hardly wait,” responded the slightly younger of the two. “It’s just that it seems different here than I expected. I mean, I thought that gay guys would be all over each other all the time. It just seems too normal here. I thought that there would be more lust showing, with all the good looking guys around this place.”

“I know what you mean Carl. Except for a word or two occasionally between two partners, you’d not even know that everyone here is gay! I half expected a continual orgy, and hell, so far I haven’t even seen anyone in their underpants!”

“Yeah, and some of them obviously have something to show, judging by the size of some of their baskets. And I’m not just talking about the older guys, neither!”

“Watch who you’re calling older,” Tyler said, grinning as he entered the room. “Hi guys.”

“Hey Tyler,” Nathan said first, followed by a similar greeting from Carl.

“Where’s Dan?” Carl asked.

“He wanted to sleep in,” Tyler reported with a smile. “He had a late night.”

“Oh….” Carl said, catching the innuendo. “What about you?”

“I’m an early-riser,” Tyler said before adding, “Excuse the expression. Ha!”

“You’re BAD,” Carl said accusingly.

“Admitted,” Tyler responded. “What gets you up at this early hour?”

“I’m an early riser too,” Carl informed Tyler. “Of course I had to rouse ‘sleepy head’ here.”

“I’m a night person,” admitted Nathan. “I’m not used to going to bed as early as everyone does here. Speaking of that…uh what is there here for us to do? I mean, there’s lots of stuff to do here at the house, but I mean, we’ve been in Las Vegas for days and the only time we’ve been away from here was to go to the hospital or shopping.”

“There’s no reason that you have to feel stuck here,” Tyler said. Perhaps this afternoon, Dan and I could take you guys on a tour of the city. That way you’d know your way around when you want to go out together, or by yourself.”

“How would we get around?” Nathan asked pursuing the idea.

“I’m sure that Ron would let you take the Jeep, if you have driver’s licenses.”

“That would be cool,” Nathan said thankfully. “I have a Utah license.”

“I don’t have any license,” Carl said. “I know how to drive, but in my jerkwater little town, none of the young guys got licenses unless they had a regular need to drive to another town.”

“Nathan, you’ll need to get licensed in Nevada, and we can set up for you to take a driver’s ed course, Carl. That way you can get used to driving in all our traffic and learn what you need to know for the driving test and the written test.”

“Boy, it’s a lot more complicated here than in the country,” Carl said, half complaining.

“That’s life in the big city,” Tyler agreed.

Tyler and the boys heard the sounds of young guys talking before they saw Ronnie, Jerry, Tommy Stanley and Benny Young enter the breakfast room.

“So what do you guys want to do today?” Ronnie was heard saying to the other three.

Before anyone could answer, Tyler greeted the newcomers. They in turn exchanged ‘good mornings’ with Tyler, Nathan and Carl before heading over to the buffet table.

“Mary hasn’t made breakfast yet?” inquired Ronnie after looking at the assortment of sweet rolls.

“Not yet,” Tyler answered. “I’m sure that she’s waiting for enough people to be up so that breakfast is fresh.”

“Did I hear my name mentioned?” Mary asked, entering the room from the kitchen.

“Yes Ma’am,” Ronnie answered politely. “We were wondering when breakfast would be ready.”

“In about 10 minutes, guys,” she answered. “Today you’ll be having French toast, scrambled eggs, sausage links, and hash browns. There will be the usual toast, coffee, milk and juices too. If anyone wants, there is the usual assortment of cold cereal. In the meantime, help yourself to the sweet rolls.”

“Sounds good Mary,” Jerry said smacking his lips in anticipation.

Mary smiled, then checked the juice and coffee containers before departing for the kitchen.

“So what are you guys going to do today?” asked Tyler.

“I was gonna offer that we could go horseback riding up to Table Rock. We have enough horses unless everyone wants to go. We could ask Mary to make us a picnic lunch.” Ronnie suggested. “I haven’t been up there yet either, and Dad said it would be getting cold up there before too long since it’s at 7000 feet elevation.”

“I’m sure that Ron wouldn’t go because Matt shouldn’t, and I’m sure that’s true of Douglas so probably Eddie wouldn’t either,” Tyler guessed. “I don’t know whether Dan would want to go, but I’d enjoy it unless you younger guys would rather not have any adults along.”

“No. If we go we’d love to have both you and Dan come along,” responded Ronnie. “Who would like to go?” he asked, looking at the younger guys around the table.

“I would,” Jerry said. “Me too,” both Tommy and Benny chimed in.

“I think I’d go, if Tyler goes,” Nathan said. “I don’t know much about horses, but I’m game!”

“I feel the same way,” Carl quickly added. “We haven’t had any time to be with Tyler since we got here.”

“I’ll ask Dan if he wants to go, then decide. I’ll go without him if he doesn’t have other plans for us,” committed Tyler.

“Dad should be here soon,” reported Jerry. “You can ask him then.”

“I’ll do that,” Tyler promised.

“Hi guys,” Douglas said as he and Eddie entered the room.

“Morning boys,” Tyler responded first. “Help yourself to some sweet rolls and juice. Breakfast will be coming soon.”

The boys all exchanged ‘Good mornings’ with the two newcomers who then headed for the buffet. No sooner had they served themselves and were seated than Ron, Matt and Dan came in together and another round of morning greetings were exchanged. Ron made a quick detour to the kitchen to return the coffee tray he had taken up to the master suite earlier. He reentered the breakfast room carrying a large covered stainless steel container filled with scrambled eggs. Mary and Parker followed with other serving containers holding the rest of the breakfast fare. A moment later, after arranging the serving area, she announced that breakfast was ready.

“Help yourself boys,” Ron instructed the younger group.

As one, they stood and headed for the buffet table, picking up plates and dishing up their selections. After about five minutes, the four adults stood and followed the lead of the youths. Once seated again, Tyler turned to Dan.

“Umm, Babe, some of the boys want to go horseback riding up to Table Rock. Would you like to go?”

“That might be fun,” Dan answered. “Who all is going?”

“Jerry, Ronnie, Tommy and Bennie, so far. Nathan and Carl will go if we go. Douglas and Eddie are invited too of course, but I’m not sure it would be a good idea for Douglas quite this soon. Matt and Ron are also invited, but we didn’t think that Matt would feel up to going yet.”

“You’ve got that right,” Matt answered.

“I’ll stay with Matt,” Ron added.

“I’ll stay too,” Douglas confirmed. “Eddie is welcome to go if he wants.”

“No, I’d rather stay with you,” Eddie responded.

“Then I guess it’s up to you, Dan,” Tyler concluded.

“How long would we be gone?” Dan asked.

“It takes about an hour to get there,” Ron advised, “then an hour or two there, then another hour back.”

“Sure, I’ll give it a try,” responded Dan. “I’m not much of a horseman, but don’t let it be said that I’m not willing to try something different.”

“Good! That’s settled,” Ronnie said beaming. “I’ll go ask Mary to fix us lunches, and I’ll ask Parker to call Gerry to saddle up the horses. When will we leave?”

“It’s 8:30 now,” Tyler said looking at his watch. “Why don’t we go at 10:30 and be back at 1:30 or 2:00. That would give us about an hour and a half there. We should probably be at the stables by 10:00 though, ‘cause it will take us a little while to get mounted and on our way.”

“Cool,” Ronnie ‘the planner’ agreed.

                                     *                      *                      *

10:00 at the house

Ron and Matt were in the family room after seeing the ‘horse crowd’ off to the stables.

“It seems so quiet,” Matt commented.

“I agree. With Douglas and Eddie in Douglas’ room, the place seems empty.”

“What would you like to do today?” Ron asked.

“This morning I thought I’d have a little meeting with Dorothy, Mary and Parker about household stuff,” responded Matt. “If you want to do something else though, I’d be glad to put it off.”

“No that’s okay,” said Ron. “I’m glad you’re looking out after the place. I never liked to do it when I was the only one living here. I just let them do whatever they wanted most of the time. I guess I never really understood what it took to keep the place running, and, quite frankly wasn’t all that interested.”

“There is a lot to do, Ron,” Matt informed his mate. “I like to let them know our plans, review the menus, and make sure everything is getting done. You know, that kind of stuff. It makes it easier for them, although I’ve never known anyone who can handle the last minute changes in our plans like they do. Now we’ve got Dan and Tyler’s place to get ready and staffed, and prepare for them to move in a few weeks. I know Dan’s been working with Dorothy on the staffing, and has been meeting with the decorator on the furnishings. How is the construction going?”

“I’m told that it’s going fine,” replied Ron. “When Tyler and Dan get back, it probably would be a good idea to do a site visit with them.”

“I’d like that,” Matt said. “I haven’t seen the place in a month, at least.”

“Good. You go meet with Dorothy, Parker and Mary then. I brought home a little work that will take me about an hour,” Ron said. “I’ll be up in the Eagle’s Nest. When you get finished, come on up.”

“Okay Lover,” Matt said as he got up from the sofa where they’d been sitting. “I’ll be up in an hour or so.”

“K,” Ron agreed.

Matt moved across the room toward the kitchen as Ron stood and headed for the elevator.
As Matt entered the kitchen, he saw Mary and Parker had just finished up the last of the breakfast chores and were pausing before beginning the lunch preparations for the ‘skeleton crew’ that was left in the house.

“Parker, would you call Dorothy to come up to the house?” Matt asked. “I’d like to go over the plans for the coming couple of weeks.”

“Sure Matt. Right away.” He reached for the phone and a moment later hung up the receiver. “She’ll be right up,” he reported.

“I’d like to review the plans for this next weekend first, especially Ron’s party,” Matt informed the couple.

“Does Ron know?” Parker asked.

“No, as it’s a surprise. Even the boys don’t know yet and I don’t want them to until Ron and Tyler have left for D.C.”

“Do you know how many people will be coming?” Mary asked.

“I believe that we’ll have close to 100 people for the party itself,” Matt said. “With a group of that size we’ll need to use the Music Room. Of course the food and bar will be catered for a sit-down dinner, but I’ll expect you two and Dorothy to direct the serving activities. We’ll have a number of out-of-town guests in town too. There won’t be too many staying here. I’ve booked rooms at the Marriot for those we don’t have room for, but most of them will be around during the daytime and evenings for meals, unless we have plans to all eat out or they want to go out on their own.”

“Who all will be staying here?” Parker inquired.

“Alan and Bryan and their two boys. That will be two bedrooms. Bryan’s parents, Richard and Ann Adams, will be here, as well as Captain Henri Larson and his son Hans, and of course Tim Harris. That will pretty much take up the 5 spare bedrooms.”

“Oh it will be so good to see everyone, and especially Tim again,” Mary said with a smile. “We had a little time to visit on our honeymoon cruise this past summer. I’ve missed him. What is he doing now?”

This year he’ll be finishing high school Mary, and next fall starting college. He’s still working for Henri on the PT II of course, and he and Hans are still a boyfriends.”

“They make such a cute pair,” she cooed. “I can tell you that Captain Larson, the boys and all the crew treated us like royalty on the cruise. Parker and I practically had to fight them to let us fix a meal for the whole crew to thank them before we disembarked. We won though, and they were properly stuffed.”

The outside door leading in from the garage opened and Dorothy Simms, their semi-retired housekeeper entered, greeting Matt with a warm kiss on the cheeks.

“How are you feeling Matt?” she asked.

“Much better, thanks,” he replied. “How are you?”

“I’m doing fine as long as I don’t overdo,” she responded. “The doctor says I’ll live to be 100 if I take care of myself. It’s hard slowing down though after all these years.”

“I’m sure it is,” agreed Matt. “We want you around for a long time though, so if you get tired, we want you to stop whatever you’re doing and rest.”

“I’ll try,” she promised reluctantly.

Matt quickly brought Dorothy current on the conversation up to that point. They were most of the way thorough reviewing the balance of the details for the party when the front gate intercom buzzed.

Parker stepped to the remote TV/intercom and answered, “May I help you?”

“Yes,” Matt heard the voice over the speaker. “This is Eric Chalmers. I’m Mr. Davidson’s Physical Therapist, here to begin our first session.”

“Yikes!” Matt chirped in surprise. “I’d completely forgotten about that. Let him in.”

“Thank you Mr. Chalmers. Please come up the main road until you get to the house. You may park on the bridge in front of the house. I’ll meet you at the front door. My name is Parker.”

“Thanks Mr. Parker,” Chalmers answered. “I’ll be there as quickly as possible.”

“Very good sir,” Parker answered. “And it’s just Parker.”

“Oh. Uh…. Fine…Parker.”

Parker pressed the button opening the gate. Matt grabbed the wall phone and punched in a three number code.

“Hiya babe,” Matt said. “There’s a change in plan. I already forgot I have Physical Therapy this morning.” He paused as Ron responded, then said, “Ok, I’ll see you in the exercise room when you get there.” He hung up the receiver. Turning to the three adults he’d been meeting with, he apologized. “I’m really sorry. I forgot that I have PT this morning. We’ll have to finish the details when Ron leaves town on Monday night.”

“It’s not a problem, dear boy,” Dorothy said with a smile. “We all forget things when we get older,” she kidded.

“At 28 years of age?” Mary muttered, and they all laughed at her joke.

                        *                      *                      *

Eric was in the exercise room looking at the well-equipped facility, when Matt entered. What Matt saw was a 23 year old, drop-dead gorgeous athlete with a killer body, and a face that, besides being incredibly handsome, was equipped with sparkling eyes and a cute smile from soft lips that Matt thought were temptingly kissable. He was probably straight, Matt thought with regret. ‘Oh well, at least the eye-candy distraction will keep me alert.’

“Hello, I’m Matt Davidson,” he said by way of introduction as he stepped to the young man who had turned to meet him. Matt extended his hand. The therapist took it and as he shook it said, “I’m Eric Chalmers. It’s nice to meet you. I must say that I’m surprised. I don’t mean to be rude, but you don’t look like you need a therapist.”

“Don’t let my looks fool you,” offered Matt. “My whole side is as weak as a kitten and it’s only because I move and talk slowly that the effects of the stroke are not obvious.”

“That may be true, Mr. Davidson,” Chalmers continued, “it’s just that I work with a man who has difficulty moving as much as a finger. He would jump for joy to have only your impairments.”

“That’s truly unfortunate for him. He has my sincere sympathy. By the way, my name is Matt. As long as we’re working together, I’d prefer you use it. My stroke already makes me feel old, and using a more formal form of address only adds to that feeling.”

“I’m sorry… Matt. I didn’t mean to offend you.”

“You didn’t really. I’m just a bit sensitive right now. Doctor Parker said that there was a good chance, through physical therapy, that I could completely regain my strength and motor control.”

“Thanks Matt. Yes, seeing how slight the damage is and with your young age and prior good physical condition, I’d say that there is a good chance for complete recovery. It could take a couple of years to have absolutely no lingering effects, but we should be able to get close to that in a much shorter period of time.”

“How long do you think it will take?” asked Matt.

“It depends on when you want to stop the physical therapy, and how often we choose to have our sessions. We can accomplish more by working hard on it every day, and extending past the minimum treatment. If we say we want to achieve 98% and are willing to work hard at it, I would guess two months. If you are willing to settle for less we can either shorten the therapy time or work less rigorously.”

“I want the whole banana, if we can arrange the workout times,” Matt stated adamantly. “I want the exercises to be as hard as you want to make them, and for as long as it takes to get so close that I don’t notice the difference between my old self and my new self. ”

“Good! I guess we should get started then,” Eric said with a smile. “First I’d like you to fill out my questionnaire, and then I’ll do my own evaluation of your strength and motor control. That will help us to decide on what to give the most emphasis. Just so you understand, what we’re doing is we’re making a new pathway through your damaged nervous system. The body responds to challenges and will even grow new nerves, but it takes time, and repeated challenges. Our job is to offer the challenges to your nervous system so that it will repair itself.”

“Sounds fair to me,” Matt responded. “Let’s get going.”

The next 45 minutes were spent on both the written and physical evaluation. At the end of the physical review Eric said, “Let’s take a break.”

“Your timing is perfect,” Matt agreed. “I could stand to find the bathroom. I had a big breakfast and several cups of coffee. I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll be here,” Eric promised as he sat down on a chair and began to add information to the form on the clipboard that he had used during the evaluation.

Matt left the room for the nearby bath that served both the workout room and the pool area outside. Moments later he returned to find another chair placed beside the one on which Eric was seated.

“Let’s talk for a few minutes,” requested Eric. “Then we’ll begin a light workout program to start. Tomorrow we’ll take the full time to work on therapy.”

“Alright. I’m game,” Matt said as he lowered himself slowly into the other chair.

“From what I can see,” Eric began, “you are at about 80% of your old strength and probably less than that in reflexes. Both will come back. You should have two sessions a day, repeating in the second one what we do together in the first. You should have someone here to assist you, only because you will get tired and will be a bit prone to having an accident if you push yourself too far. To hold down the costs of my visits, a friend or relative can take my place.”

“I can arrange that,” Matt committed.

“We’ll record your progress as we go, as the improvements will not be readily apparent to you. You will progress by inches and sometimes will appear not to improve at all for short periods of time. You must not get discouraged. It will all come with perseverance.”

The door to the exercise room opened and Ron entered and approached the seated men.

Matt looked up to see his lover coming near.

“Eric, I’d like you to meet my life partner, Ron Turner,” Matt said as an introduction. “Ron, this is my therapist, Eric Chalmers.”

The look on Eric’s face registered surprise at Matt’s revelation, but not shock. “Nice to meet you Mr. Turner, he said as he stood and shook hands.

“Likewise Mr. Chalmers. I go by Ron to my friends, and if you are half as devoted to Matt’s well being as I think you will be, we’ll be good friends. What’s your prognosis of Matt’s condition?”

“I’d say his chance of complete recovery appears to be doable. It will take a while and some hard work, as well as some frustration, but I have faith that we can accomplish it. By the way to my friends, I’m Eric. Looking at the surroundings here, this may be seem like a silly question, but are you the Ron Turner?”

“It depends on your age,” Ron replied with a chuckle. “If you’re over 40, the Ron Turner was probably my father. He’s been gone now for about 7 or 8 years.”

“I’ve only been in Las Vegas for three years,” revealed the young therapist.

“Well, I guess then it must be me that draws the short straw,” Ron chuckled.

“I’m honored to meet you sir,” Eric said in awe.

“And I’m honored to meet you, sir,” Ron repeated. “Now let’s cut that kind of crap and get on with helping my Matty,” he said with a wink.

Eric was impressed with how down-to-earth Ron appeared, and quickly recovered from his two discoveries, the first that Ron and Matt were gay, and the second, that Ron was the famous billionaire philanthropist, who appears like just a regular guy on the surface.

“We were just about to start a light workout program,” Eric said. “So far we’ve just been doing evaluations of Matt’s condition. Now we’re ready to work. I mentioned to Matt that he could do a second workout each day without me, to speed up his recovery, but that he should have someone present to assist him, in case he got unsteady or tired.”

“We can certainly do that,” assured Ron, “if you’re unable to come back for the second session.”

“Uh… it gets kind of expensive, Ron,” Eric offered. “I’m not sure that it’s worth your money to have me here for the repetition of what we did earlier in the day.”

Ron smiled. “I guess there’s only one question. Are you too busy to come back a second time?”

“Well, no,” Eric admitted. “I only have three other patients, and they don’t all need therapy every day. To be honest, I could use the money.”

“Then it’s settled. You should understand one thing, Eric. Matt means more to me than any other thing I care about or own. There is nothing I wouldn’t do, or give, for his happiness and well-being. In the bigger scheme of things, your coming here twice a day will help us all. If you find you can’t make it, either I will assist Matt or one of the other household members will. Fair enough?”

“Perfect,” Eric said smiling. “Would you like to watch our first workout session?”

“Nothing would please me more,” responded Ron.

                                    *                      *                      *

 Meanwhile in Denver, Colorado.

The small private jet was sitting still tied down at the terminal apron as the three men approached its open door. The man in the middle had his hands clasped together to avoid the chafing of skin that would otherwise be the result of wearing the chrome plated handcuffs that adorned his wrists.

Thomas Stanley, alias Stanley Toms, was to be on the flight chartered by the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as part of his extradition proceedings, returning him to the gaming capital and his trial for attempted molestation of a minor and battery of Matt Davidson. One of the other men was from Denver’s Department of Corrections, while the third was Thomas’ ‘companion’ for the trip and represented Metro.

Upon entering the small jet, Thomas was placed in one of the comfortable seats and his arms and legs cuffed to the furniture. Once secured, the Las Vegas officer signed the form accepting custody, and then the Denver policeman shook hands with his counterpart, deplaned and disappeared into the executive jet terminal building.

Sergeant Sunderson, the Metro officer, sat down in a seat facing the prisoner and pulled his seatbelt around his ample waist while the pilots and ground crew prepared to bring the jet to life for its take-off. 5 minutes later, after securing the hatch and completing the pre-flight routine, the pilots started the engines and the small plane began to roll toward the end of the runway. Several minutes later, the plane, its nose pointed down the mile-and-a half long stretch of concrete, began its take-off roll. The twin jets mounted on the aft fuselage screamed their high-pitched full throttle whine as the aircraft picked up speed and streaked down the centerline, finally pointing its nose upward, leaving the ground behind. The landing gear was quickly raised, the flaps retracted into the wings, and the craft climbed swiftly through the clouds into the afternoon sunlight above.

                        *            *            *            *            *