The following is a work of gay fiction. If the subject matter is offensive or you are too young, please exit now.

For copyright information, see Chapter One. John Tucker


Chapter Twenty-one

Monday Afternoon, Matt’s office in the RET Building

Matt was in his office reviewing financial reports when his secretary brought in the portable phone.

“It’s a Dr. Hazeltoff,” she announced. “He wouldn’t tell me what it is regarding.”

“I’ll take it Betty. Thank you.”

“Matt Davidson,” he said into the mouthpiece.

“Hi Matt,” the doctor said. “This is Randy Hazeltoff, I just called to tell you that the blood tests on the boys came out clean and that their health appears good.”

“Thanks Doc,” Matt replied. “I’m sure you’re aware that Nathan’s been active sexually, occasionally without protection. He was worried, so I’m sure that he’ll be relieved.”

“Yes, I asked,” the doctor agreed. “I hope he is more careful in the future. STDs are no fun, and of course there is no cure for AIDS.”

“I’m sure he will be,” Matt responded. “We’ve talked about it, and insisted that he not engage in sexual contact until we were sure. He’s been very cooperative.”

“He seems like a good boy,” Ron’s old friend replied. “Seems like you’re getting quite a collection of gay boys.”

“You know Ron. He’s such a softie.”

The doctor responded with the modified jibe,” It takes one to love one.”

“I suppose,” Matt admitted. “Great minds think alike.”

“Ha! Ha! You’re so modest.”

“Only around strangers,” came Matt’s retort.

“Well, I’ve got to run.”

“Thanks again, Doc. Keep in touch.”

“I will. Give my best to Ron.”

“You can count on it. Goodbye.”

“Goodbye Matt.”

Matt hung up the phone and decided that he’d call the boys, letting them know the news. Again picking up the phone, he pressed the speed-dial button for the home he shared with Ron and their family. Parker answered after two rings.

“R’att’s nest,” Parker answered.

“Huh? What’s going on Parker?”

“Oh. Hi Mr. Matt,” Parker responded with embarrassment. “Jerry and Ronnie are here in the kitchen and they told me the name they had picked for your estate. Then when they heard the phone ring, they dared me to answer with it.”

“Where did the ‘rat’ come from?”

“It’s an abbreviated version of ‘Ron and Matt’ Parker revealed. “They thought it was cute.”

“I’d suggest that you take the matter up with Ron when he gets back before using it again,” Matt responded. “I agree that it’s a cute idea, but not very dignified.”

“I apologize Sir,” Parker said humbly.

“Nonsense,” Matt said, refusing the apology. “None of us are so stuffy that we can’t have a bit of fun now and then. There’s no need for an apology.”

“Whatever you say sir. Now, how may I help you?”

“Is Nathan around?” Matt asked.

“Yes sir. I think that he and Carl are in their room. Let me transfer the call up there.”

“Thanks Parker.”

Matt waited while the call was transferred.

“What is it Parker? We’re busy,” Nathan answered in an annoyed tone.

“It isn’t Parker, it’s Matt. I’m not sure I like your tone of voice.”

“I don’t know why it should matter,” Nathan shot back without thinking. “I thought it was Parker. He’s just hired help.”

“WRONG!” Matt said, his anger quickly building up. “Parker may be hired, but he’s been with Ron a long time and Ron thinks of him almost like a father. I’ve never known Parker to ever do anything that wasn’t in our best interest. I’d better never again hear you speak to him or about him with anything but the utmost respect! The same goes for Mary and any of the other household staff!”

“Yes Sir. I’m sorry,” Nathan guiltily apologized. “I just shot my mouth off. I guess I just wanted to impress Carl with my own manliness by acting like I was important.”

“You are important; to us,” Matt assured the older youth, “but big men don’t have to put on airs and they sure as hell don’t have to put others down, in order to elevate themselves. I’ll accept your apology this time, but you really should be apologizing to Parker.”

“I’ll do that too,” agreed Nathan. “I guess I haven’t given him the respect he deserves.”

“That makes me pleased, thank you,” Matt said, his temper cooled off. “The reason that I called is the doctor called with the report on your medical exam. You’re clean and you’re both healthy.”

“Woo Hoo!” Nathan yelped. “Man, am I relieved!”

“I thought you would be. That’s why I called instead of waiting until I got home.”

“I can’t thank you enough!” Nathan said with excitement.

“I didn’t do anything exceptional. You are lucky. I hope you don’t trust to luck again.”

“I promise I won’t,” the youth pledged. “You’ve made my day.”

“Well, I’ve got to get back to mine,” Matt informed the handsome young man. “I’ll see you tonight. Goodbye.”

“Bye Matt. And Matt I really am sorry. I’ll go down and apologize to Parker right now.”

“Good! Now I am proud of you.”

Matt hung up the phone. It immediately rang again.

“I’m sorry to disturb you Matt,” his secretary Betty said, “but Ron is on the line.”

“Ron who?” Matt kidded.

“Ron Turner, you silly man,” she replied with the hint of a giggle in her voice.

“Oh that Ron. I’ll take it. Thanks.” Ron came on the line.

“Hi Babe,” Ron said.

“Hi Babe back,” Matt responded. “Who is this?”

Ron laughed. “This is your lover.”

“Well that narrows it down a bit,” admitted Matt.

“You must be feeling pretty chipper,” Ron observed.

“Yes, I feel like a new man. Do you know one?”

“I’m coming home right now!” threatened Ron.

“I’m just having fun with you Babe, you know that. I just got news that Nathan and Carl’s health check-up came out fine. I called them and Nathan is elated. Oh and Randy Hazeltoff said ‘hi’.”

“Wanna make a bet on what those two youngsters are doing right now?” Ron asked.

“You trying to draw me into a sucker bet? Un Uh! Not on your life.”

“Smart man. I knew you had a head on your shoulders.”

“How was the meeting with the FBI guys?” Matt asked.

“It was fine. They want us to cooperate with them in their anti-terrorism efforts. As we feared they were a bit pushy, but we pushed back, so I guess we came out even at the end.”

“Good. I know you planned on staying in D.C. for two days. Are you going to change your plans now?”

“No, Tyler has never been here before,” Ron answered. “There is a lot to see and do here. Heck, you could spend three days at the Smithsonian alone and still not see everything. We’re just going to see the sights this afternoon and tomorrow. The hotel has a nice health club too, so we’re going to have a workout before we leave the hotel this afternoon. How’s work?”

“It’s good go be back,” Matt responded. “The staff kept up well with the work, but there was a lot for me to review this morning, not to mention that I’ll be doing interviews for the ‘Arts’ guy starting pretty soon.”

“Well good luck with that. I’m very interested in who you pick.”

“Uh, I was only going to interview the top six, then narrow it down to three for your final decision.”

“Nix that if you find the right guy,” Ron responded. “Use your best judgment. If there are three that are really close and you have trouble deciding, we’d be happy to give you our input when we get back, but if there is a clear, strong candidate, go for it.”

“I’ll consider it,” Matt promised.

“How are the boys?” inquired Ron.

“Missing you guys, of course. Not as much as me though. The bed just seemed empty without you in it beside me.”

“Awww, that’s sweet, Lover. You know I miss you too. I wish you were here with me.”

“Me too. The therapy is going well though, so it’s better this time that I stayed behind.”

“I’ll make it up to you,” Ron promised. “Maybe we can go to San Diego when I get back. We now have both a condo and the PT I there, and we don’t get to use either one enough.”

“Let’s take the boys,” Matt suggested.

“Good idea,” agreed Ron. “Maybe we could do it this weekend when I get back.”

“Ummm, I think the following weekend would be better,” Matt said thinking about Ron’s surprise birthday bash that was planned for his return.”

“You’re probably right Babe. I’m sure both Tyler and I will be tired of traveling by then and will be ready for some down-home R & R.”

“What does that stand for, Romp and Rump?” Matt kidded.

“On second thought,” Ron replied without answering Matt’s question. “That sounds so good I think we should return tonight.”

“You’re on Babe,” Matt responded in spite of the fact that it could spoil the planned surprise party.

“You know we can’t,” said Ron, the regret in his voice apparent. “We have those meetings in New York, and I don’t want to put them off.”

“I know Babe, it will keep. I just want you to know how much in love with you I am.”

“It can’t be more than I love you. The sun rises for me with your smile.”

“I’m gonna write that down,” Matt replied. “Just in case you forget.”

“Ain’t gonna happen,” Ron vowed. “I’d be truly lost without you. I’m in this relationship ‘til the ocean turns to dust.”

“Two more!” Matt said gleefully.

“You dufus! Wait ‘til I get home. I’m gonna have to teach you some manners.”

“That might be tough, since I’m the one with all the class and coolness.”

“Just for that you get a joke!”

“I give! Spare me!” Matt laughed.

“You’ll like this one, I heard it here.”

“An Indian walks into a bar with a shotgun in one hand and a bucket of buffalo manure in the other. He says to the waiter, ‘Me want coffee.’”

“The waiter said, ‘Sure chief, coming right up.’”

“He gets the Indian a tall mug of coffee, and the Indian drinks it down in one gulp, picks up the bucket of manure, throws it into the air, blasts it with the shotgun, then just walks out.”

“The next morning the Indian returns. He has his shotgun in one hand and a bucket of manure in the other. He walks up to the counter and says to the waiter, ‘Me want coffee.’”

“The waiter says, “Whoa Tonto. We’re still cleaning up your mess from the last time you were here. What the heck was that all about, anyway?’”

“ ‘Me in training for government job. Come in, drink coffee, shoot the shit, then disappear for the rest of the day.’”

Matt stifling a laugh, barely choked out, “Is that it?”

“I’ve got another one if that didn’t wake up your ‘funny bone,” Ron threatened.

“Ha, ha, ha!” Matt let loose with a straight face, “See? I knew how bad that one was! I’m afraid to gamble on another one.”

“Wait ‘til I get home! You’re gonna pay.”

“Promises, promises,” Matt taunted.

“Enough of this goofing around, Mr. Silliness, have you heard from Butch?”

“Yes. He and the crew made it back to McCarran safely this morning. I told him to take off for a day or two.”

“Good. What about Tom Stanley?”

“Both he and Sergeant Sunderson were flown to a hospital in Denver this morning. Sunderson will be returning tomorrow, but Stanley will stay in Denver until they know why he lost his eyesight.”

“Ask Wes Harper to make sure that Sunderson has someone at home to take care of him,” Ron requested. “If not, we need to do whatever is necessary to see that he has the best care. He’s helped us out in the past, and, of course, got injured sort of on our behalf. Have him check on the pilot too. He should also get the best care that money can buy.”

“You’ve got it Babe. That’s what I love most about you, you care so much for others.”

“That’s what you love most?” Ron asked with a smiling voice.

“Well, ‘almost’. Heh, heh,” Matt conceded chuckling, catching Ron’s inference

“You’d better get back to work,” Ron joked. “We’re paying you to ‘produce!’

Continuing Ron recited,

“A man was hired to produce,
and his boss just gave him a goose,
in the company john,
figuratively watering the lawn
but producing an alternate juice.”

Matt broke up laughing.

“I love you Ron, you goofball,” Matt said with laughter as he regained a bit of his composure.

“I love you too,” Ron replied. “I’ll call you tonight. Maybe we can have some phone sex.”

“What about Tyler?”

“He can have his own phone sex. And he better keep his hands off of me. I’m saving myself,” Ron joked.

“Talk to you later, Babe,” Matt concluded.

“Love ya. HUGs!”

Both men hung up their phones.

Matt pressed the button for the intercom. When his secretary responded he said, “Betty, please ask Wes Harper in Aztec-Turner to stop in my office today when he has a minute.”

“Yes sir,” she replied.

                                    *                      *                      *
That evening. I 15 from L.A. entering Las Vegas

David ben Sharif was tired as the drive from LA. neared its end. He thought of the training he’d been through and the careful planning that had been developed and practiced again and again for his mission in Las Vegas. He had been brought up in Lebanon and after joining the terrorist movement there while still a youth, had been taken to Iraq for training in Osama bin Laden’s organization. He had learned to hate Americans from his earliest youth, and was taught that they were Zionists at heart. His hate grew as he had trained with bin Laden’s guerillas and he became an expert at handling all the weapons in bin Laden’s well-equipped arsenal. He was also taught English and took up the task with distaste, but learned with surprising ease. In 1998 he had been brought to the United States where he lived with a fictitious uncle. He was only 18. In the ensuing years he had worked at several jobs and made few friends. Those he felt closest to were those in his cell. They took weekends to be trained and exercised, getting ready for their assignment. They were all ready to give their lives for the cause. Over time he began to enjoy the life he was leading. Living conditions, while sparse by American standards were sumptuous compared to the conditions in the Middle East. He watched a lot of television, at first more to understand the nuances of the language than for entertainment. That changed however as time went on. He even made a few casual friends at work.

After 9/11 the casual friendships vanished. His olive complexion, slight accent and dark hair pointed out his Middle Eastern heritage. He resented the change in attitude of his former friends, even though he knew because of his training it was well founded. He beamed at the success of his brethren at the World Trade Center, but carefully kept his joy hidden, except when in the company of the others in his cell. He hoped his own assignment would be as successful, assuring him a place in Paradise.

A month ago the cell had received the news of their assignment. They were to move to Las Vegas and on New Years Eve blow up the Stratosphere Tower, which on that night would be crowded with around 1500 revelers. The collapse of the 1000-foot high tower onto the crowded street would cause even more deaths and injuries. He was glad at last to have a purpose, but in the back of his mind a regret lingered.

As his car topped a rise in the road, he saw the bright lights of Las Vegas, highlighted by the multi-colored high-rise hotel towers of the strip. Then he saw it. At the far end of the strip stood the Stratosphere Tower rising far above the other buildings around it. It’s white concrete tripod legs sloped up gracefully to embrace a two-story perforated concrete base topped by 9 stories of structure encased in dark glass. On top of the glassed-in pod he saw a needle piercing the sky for another three hundred feet. He knew that the needle was in fact the tracks for a sky ride that shot strapped-in customers skyward then let them fall back in weightlessness to the roof deck. He also knew that over the next few months he would become intimately familiar with the structure, the target of their planned attack.

As his modest sedan approached the city in the desert, he thought about his immediate plans. He was to stay overnight at the Stratosphere Hotel, then tomorrow get an apartment where he and the cell members could meet when needed. His instructions told him that he had a job lined up as a skilled laborer for a construction company. He would start work on Wednesday. He had heard of the Company where he would work, but knew little about them except that they were big. The name of the construction company was Turner Construction.

                        *                      *                      *

 In the eastern part of the country

The week passed quickly for both the travelers and those who remained behind in Las Vegas. After a pleasant day exploring the nation’s capitol, Ron and his brother Tyler flew on Wednesday to New York City. Jack Smith, the former partner of the deceased Ted Thornton, and his new love, Lonnie Austin, met them at La Guardia Airport. After a quick lunch at a Times Square deli where Ron and Tyler along with the two managers of the New York office of Turner Consulting passed a pleasant hour with good food and making or renewing acquaintances, the quartet took a taxi to the Plaza hotel, where the two brothers checked in and left their luggage. 20 minutes later they again entered a cab with Jack directing the driver to the office building owned by Turner Enterprises, the same building where the New York offices of the Turner businesses and also the eastern arm of the Turner Charitable Trusts, the Friendship Trust, were located.

Stopping first at the floor now totally occupied by the Friendship Trust while Jack and Lonnie continued on to their offices, the brothers proceeded to the fairly modestly furnished office of Alan Kent, its Director.

“Alan!” Ron greeted his friend with enthusiasm when they saw him talking to a staffer outside his office.

“Ron! It’s great to see you!” Alan responded, dropping everything he was doing and rushing to his friend, giving first Ron, then Tyler a warm welcoming hug. “It’s been too long. I’m so glad you’re here. Bryan has been antsy all week.”

“Where is that scoundrel?” Ron asked. “We’ve missed you both, and I know Matt wishes he could be with me this particular moment.”

“Bryan is running a quick errand up to Turner Enterprises. He’ll be back in a minute. How’s Matt? We’ve been so worried about him.”

“Matt’s fine. We’re hoping for a complete recovery from the attack. So far he’s doing very well, and is back at work.”

“Ron!” a new voice exclaimed.

“Bryan! My dear friend,” Ron said, returning the huge grin that his newly arrived friend sported. “Time for HUGs!”

Bryan rushed to Ron, giving him his ‘best friend hug,’ then moved to Tyler.

“I’ll take a hug from this hunk,” Bryan said with enthusiasm and a wink as he wrapped his arms around Ron’s brother.

“Hi Bryan,” Tyler said. “This hug’s from Dan too.”

Ron couldn’t miss this opportunity of an audience.

“I heard they had a test on the main parts of the body in a high school in Arkansas,” he quipped.

“Yikes! Let me out of here,” Bryan laughed. “It has to be Ron and his bad jokes!”

Ron ignored the jibe and continued.

“The teacher asked the students to categorize the main parts of the body, such as the abdomen. One student raised his hand and the teacher recognized the student, who was considered the smartest kid in the class. ‘The body consists of three parts’ he said. ‘The brainium, the borax and the abominable cavity. The brainium contains the brain, the borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abominable cavity contains the five bowels, A, E, I, O and U.’ The kid got an A for the semester.”

The men laughed in spite themselves not wanting to lead Ron to further jokes.

“Hey those guys aren’t as dumb as we think,” Ron rolled on. “Heck on the same oral exam, the teacher asked how milk could be delayed from turning sour. One kid shouted out, ‘Keep it in the cow!’”

“Them guys are really pretty smart. They were asked, ‘What is the fibula?’ the obvious answer came quickly, ‘A small lie.’ Then they were asked, ‘What does varicose mean?” the answer: ‘Nearby’. They don’t have to count on the their fingers neither,” Ron declared. “Why when asked, ‘What does the word benign mean?’ the answer popped up in mere seconds: ‘Benign is what you will be after you will be eight.’”

“Stop!” Bryan pleaded as he laughed. “I’m gonna be sick!”

“We can’t have that,” Ron admitted. “I’ll save the rest until later.”

“When later?” Bryan pleaded. “I want to be gone.”

“Keep that up sonny boy, and you’re gonna hurt my feelings.”

“Mission Impossible,” Bryan declared.

“Now you’ve really hurt my feelings,” Ron said donning an expression of deep hurt.

“Ooo baby, I’m sorry,” Bryan said putting his arm around Ron while winking at Tyler and Alan. “Let’s go in my office and we’ll change your diapers.”

“Is that the way you always treat the Boss?” Ron said in mock anger.

“No, I give him love every night, don’t I Alan?”

“Hey! Don’t get me involved in your shenanigans,” Alan said, raising his arms with his hands open. “I’m innocent.”

That got a laugh from all the friends.

“You are staying with us, I hope,” Alan continued.

“No, but thanks anyway,” Ron replied. “Tyler and I have a full schedule and we thought that staying in the City would be less of a bother to you.”

“We’re disappointed, but understand,” responded Bryan’s mate. “You are expected for dinner tomorrow night though. Dad and Mom will be there as well as Bryan’s brother Dick and of course, our boys Rich and Brandt. Everyone is looking forward to seeing you again.”

“We’ll be there,” Ron promised. “What time?”

“Around six. We’ll eat around seven, but it will give us time to visit and have a toddy or two.”

“That sounds great! Now we’d better take the tour and say ‘hi’ to all our friends here,” Ron said apologetically. “Let’s meet here again at 2:30 and we’ll talk about the Friendship Trust operation.”

“You’re on,” Alan responded. “Do you want to visit with our staff now or later?”

“Now would be good,” a smiling Ron replied.

“Let’s go then,” Alan said as he took Bryan, his lover, by the hand and led the way.

                        *                      *                      *

 Earlier at Ron and Matt’s home in Las Vegas

Nathan hung up the phone after talking with Matt. Carl looked at his friend, and couldn’t help noticing the huge grin on his face.

“Must have been good news,” Carl remarked.

“Yes,” Nathan responded. “It was Matt. The doctor that we saw last Friday called. Our tests came out clean. We’re healthy and STD free!”

“That’s terrific! Now you can quit worrying.”

“Yeah, I must admit that I was pretty concerned. I’m glad we waited to have sex though. My worries would have been more than doubled if I thought I might have given you something.”

“I guess it’s one way of giving by holding back,” observed Carl. “I’m glad you didn’t insist on going further. I probably would have agreed to take the risk. I really appreciate your concern for me.”

“When I first met you, I looked at you as a possible play-toy,” Nathan confessed. “Then I got to know you better and I began to realize that even though you came across as dumb, you’re just the opposite. You’re extremely intelligent. Every day you learned and absorbed things around you. You mastered the computer in half the time it took me, and I was astounded when I saw what you could do with math. For a while I thought you were very weird when you started reading math books that Matt got for you like they were cheap novels. It seemed to me that you were always studying or exploring. I never was a great student, though I got pretty good grades. I thought it was just something you did because you had to. You showed me a new face about learning. I always wanted to continue my education, but not necessarily to learn. I was as interested as much in the piece of paper at the end as in learning. Now I see that I was wrong. You taught me that, without saying a word.”

“I’m really surprised and almost embarrassed, but at the same time pleased at what you’ve just told me,” responded Carl shaking his head in wonder. “From the first time I saw you, I’ve been attracted to you. You’re extremely good looking, even though it was hard to see at first ‘cause you’d been beat up, you have a great sense of humor, are fun to be around, and, in spite of your self-denial, you are smart. It was me who felt like a dummy when we first met. I thought that I was totally unworthy of your attention. You proved however to be a great friend. You’ve included me in all you do and have helped me learn. Finally you’ve denied yourself pleasure in order to safeguard my health. Nathan, I’ve come to more than just like you. I love you. I don’t know if it’s the real thing like Ron and Matt have, but I know that I want you to be happy, even if it means that we never become partners. I’d sacrifice my own happiness if it would assure yours.”

“Man, I’ve never received such a compliment,” Nathan said with humility. “No one ever really cared that much for me. Sure I’ve had sex with lots of guys, but that was just sex. It was either just for fun or for money. Now that we are free to have sex together, I’m almost afraid. It will be a new experience for me to give myself to someone I truly care about.”

“You really care about me?” Carl asked in surprise. “I’ve hoped you would but never thought it would come true.”

“Yes, I care. I’m just now realizing how much,” Nathan replied. “I built a shield around my heart to protect it from being hurt. Now I truly believe that you would never hurt me, at least not on purpose. The shield is dropping away and I can see the possibility of real happiness with you. I think that if we hadn’t waited to become completely involved sexually, I would probably have been blinded by the rapture of having your body. Now I can appreciate the whole you. It makes me more cautious because I want it to be good for you, not just for me. I want to please you and make you happy. I want it because I love you too.”

Both the young men’s eyes were bright, rimmed with tears of joy. Nathan opened his arms and took Carl in his embrace. Their heads came together and they shared their first kiss. Soon their tongues were dancing, and their fingers began to find buttons to unbutton, and zippers to open. Never moving any further apart than necessary as they shed their clothes, they gazed at each other’s body as it was offered, exposed and unashamed, to the other.

Finally, Nathan took Carl’s hand and pulled his willing lover toward the bed. He realized in doing so that the goal they both wanted had changed. Before they wanted to explore the thrill of sex. Now they wanted to experience the glory of making love.

                        *            *            *            *            *