Chapter Twenty-seven

Monday morning, 10 AM, Ron’s office at the RET building, Las Vegas

“Would you like another cup of coffee Ron?” Ron’s secretary asked as she scooped up several documents that Ron had reviewed and signed.

“Thanks Margaret, I would.”

Margaret placed the documents on the conference table and stepped to the small recessed bar, on which stood the carafe of coffee.

“My husband and I certainly enjoyed the party,” she commented.

“Matt and I did too. I still can’t believe that Matt was able to acquire that painting for our Arts Project.”

“Yes, I’m sure it’s quite a find,” Margaret agreed.

“Matt is going to be very busy with that project in the next few months,” Ron informed his ‘right-hand gal.’

“I’m sure the staff will do all that’s possible to help him,” she offered.

“Yes, I’m sure of that too. You know when thinking of all the people here, I just pinch myself to realize our great luck. We’ve collected some great talent and some really caring people. I hope they know how much they are appreciated.”

“It never hurts to remind them,” Margaret suggested as she set Ron’s coffee on his desk.

“Thanks for the coffee. You’re right, of course. In a while I’ll take a walk around the office.”

“I’d suggest that a trip around the country in a few weeks might be nice too. We’re lucky here. We see you almost every day. That’s not true in Atlanta, New York, Chicago or LA.”

“You’re absolutely right about that too,” Ron agreed. “We’ll talk about it today at our Monday Lunch Meeting.”

“I’ll put it on your agenda,” she said.

“Thanks Margaret. When you return to your desk, would you ring up Terry at Turner Construction? Then when I’m finished with that conversation, call my home and ask Parker to have Carl and Nathan give me a jingle as soon as possible?”

“Sure Ron. I’ll do it right away.”

She stepped to the conference table, picked up the papers she had left there, and quickly exited the room. Two minutes later Ron’s phone rang. After conversing with Terry about a job for Carl, Ron hung up. Another two minutes passed and the phone rang again.

“The boys are on the line,” Margaret informed her boss and friend.

“Thanks Margaret,” Ron said before pushing the blinking button.

“Hi,” Ron said into the mouthpiece.

“Hi. This is Nathan. Parker said you wanted us to call.”

“Thanks for calling back,” replied Ron. “Would you guys have time to come down to the office? I’ve been working on getting jobs for you.”

“Yeah, that’s great!” Nathan said. “We were just looking for an excuse to take the new car out for a spin, so we’ll be right down.”

“Great. See you in a few.”

“K, bye,” Nathan responded before hanging up.

Ron got up from his chair and walked out of the office. Passing Margaret’s desk he said, “I’m off for my stroll. The boys will be down soon. When they arrive, give me a jingle on my cell phone.”

“Sure thing Ron,” Margaret responded without looking up.

Ron headed for Matt’s office, stopping along the way to chat with several employees. On arrival he asked Matt’s secretary, Derrick, to enquire if Matt was free.

“I wish,” he said with a wink as he picked up the phone, saying a few words to Matt who answered. Then turning to Ron he said, “Go right in Mr. Turner.”

Ron entered the office to find Matt buried in work. He walked to Matt’s desk, bending over for a quick kiss.

“Sorry to bother you Babe. I was just taking a hike around the office to say hi to the troops and thought I’d drop in and see how you’re doing.”

“It’s okay Ron,” Matt responded. “I’m trying to get as much out of the way as I can before our lunch meeting. George Bowles is coming in shortly to get set up in his office and to discuss our ideas for the Arts Project. I’m ready for a break though. Coffee?”

“No thanks Matt, I just had a cup. I’ve been working on an idea for a job for Carl. I’m going to put him with Pete Siegler at Turner Construction. I was wondering if you have room for Nathan in the Arts Project?”

“I’m sure we would. I’ll talk to George about it. It’s his call. If not, I can use Nathan in the Trust Office.”

“Okay,” I’ll have him come in to see you. I’ll let you get on with your work. See you at lunch.”

“Thanks Babe,” Matt replied.

Ron winked at his partner as he stepped through the door leading past Derrick’s desk, commenting as he passed by. “He’s not free, but he’s reasonable.”

Derrick grinned as he watched Ron stride down the hall toward the Turner Consulting offices.

Walking into the office’s waiting room he spied Jeff Davis and Phil Thompson coming out of Charlie Parker’s office.

“Hi Jeff. Hi Phil,” he greeted the two whiz kids who now headed up the Chicago office of Turner consulting. “Sorry we didn’t have more time to chat at the party.”

“Hi Ron,” Jeff responded. “It’s okay. You were pretty busy with so many guests. We understand.”

“Yeah, we were just about to come by your office to say goodbye. We’re headed back to Chicago,” his partner Phil added.

“Well, I’m glad we ran into each other then,” said Ron. “How are things going in Chicago?”

“Really well,” Jeff answered. “We’ve landed some big accounts. We just asked Charlie if we could staff up some more.”

“How many people do you have there now?” Ron asked.

“There are ten of us,” Phil replied, “three clerical, one accountant, and six of us doing the consulting.”

“How many are you thinking about adding? “

“We’d like to hire 10 more, two clerical and eight analysts,” Jeff replied. “Phil and I will spend full-time then working on increasing our client base and reviewing the work being done.”

“It sounds reasonable to me,” Ron responded. “I trust that Charlie agreed.”

“He said that it’s our show,” Phil reported. “He just asked us to watch the ‘bottom-line.’”

“Charlie’s a good man,” commented Ron. “That’s why he’s where he is.”

“We were thinking of hiring more staff, but decided that we need to get a few new people ‘settled in’ and trained first.”

“I agree with your decision,” Ron said. “It’s easy to let things get out of control if you expand too fast. The quality of the work can go to hell quickly, not to mention productivity.”

“That’s what we thought too,” Jeff agreed. “Our first jobs have been very well received though, and we’re getting more work than we can handle.”

“Do what you need to,” advised Ron. “You have to take care of your customers. It’s better to say ‘no’ and get the committed work done in a timely and professional manner than to take on more work than you can get done properly.”

“We hope you’ll come by and see us some time,” Jeff invited. “We’re pretty proud of our operation, and we think you’ll be happy with the profits that we’re generating.”

“I’m already proud of you guys,” Ron complimented. “Thanks for the invitation though. I’m hoping to do a bit of traveling again as soon as I recover from the New York trip.”

“We think there is plenty of room in Chicago for the other Turner Operations too,” Phil suggested.

“We’ll talk about it at lunch,” promised Ron. “I’d like you to send me a brief report of what you think our potential is there before we act.”

“You’ll have it before the week is out,” Phil promised. “Jeff and I will work on it ourselves.”

Before Ron could respond his cell phone rang.

Lifting it from its carrier on his waist, he looked at the number displayed on the screen, then said into the mouthpiece, “What’s up Margaret?” He paused listening to the answer before responding, “Have them go into my office, I’ll be there shortly. Thanks.” He clicked the cover closed.

“Well, work awaits. Have a good trip home. We’ll try to get up there in a few weeks.”

“I hope you’ll stay with us,” Jeff invited.

“Thanks for the invitation,” Ron replied. “We’ll let you know. It depends on how large our party is. If we have a gang along, we’ll probably stay at a hotel.”

“Whatever you decide is fine with us,” responded Jeff. “Just leave some time for some personal adventures.”

“We’ll try,” Ron offered. “Oh, by the way. I’d appreciate if you would do a little side job for me.”

“ We’d be glad to,” Jeff promised. “What do you have in mind?”

“With the Friendship Trust coming up with additional support, I have a feeling that Alan’s going to want to expand. I’d like you to look at the social support in the community. It may be that we’ll want to expand there.”

“Sure, we’ll be glad to,” Phil responded. How fast do you need the information?”

“Take your time,” Ron advised. “A month or two from now will be fine.”

“You got it boss,” Jeff said with a wink to Phil. “I’m sure we can squeeze it in. We might even let one of the new people take a crack at it. You know, see if they are up to snuff.”

“Thanks guys. Well, I’ve got to run. It was great seeing you again.”

“Thanks Ron. Have a nice week,” they each expressed.

With a wave of his hand Ron exited the consulting company’s waiting room and headed back to his office.

                         *                      *                      *

Moments later, Ron’s office

“Hi guys,” Ron offered as he entered the office.

Carl was searching the small bar refrigerator for a soft drink, and Nathan was sitting at Ron’s desk trying to look important.

“May I help you sir?” Nathan spoofed.

“Why yes, as a matter of fact,” Ron responded with a serious look on his face. “I’d like my desk back.”

Nathan jumped out of Ron’s chair like he’d been hit by lightning, thinking that he’d overstepped his bounds.

“Just kidding,” Ron laughed. “How did you like the hot seat?”

“It was great,” Nathan said now recovered. “It must be great to be the boss.”

“You can be the boss because someone put you there,” Ron advised, “or you can be the boss because people are willing to follow you. The second is far better but it has to be earned.”

“Point taken,” Nathan said as he circled the desk and took a chair on the other side. Ron took his customary seat while Carl, who had opened a can of 7-up, joined Nathan facing the older man.

“Carl, we’ve found a job for you at Turner Construction. It’s just as a laborer but it’s a start. You can probably work part-time when school is on too. I’m assigning you to Pete Siegler our assistant superintendent. He earned his present job by being a very good laborer.”

“I appreciate all that you’re doing for us,” Carl replied. “I’ll make you proud of me.”

“You don’t have far to go to do that,” Ron said.

“What do you have in mind for me?” Nathan asked.

“Right now we’re thinking of using you as a ‘gofer’ with our Arts Trust project.”

“What’s a ‘gofer’?”

“You know,” Ron said grinning, “You go fer this, and then go fer that!”

“Ah, you mean an errand boy,” Nathan said in understanding.

“Exactly,” Ron replied. “Where you go from there is dependent on what you learn and how well you fit in. You’ll work for George Bowles, whom you met the other day at home. He’s the Director.”

“He’s quite a hunk,” Nathan recalled.

“Hey, I’m not sure I like that!” Carl said with just a tinge of jealousy showing.

“Pete Siegler is no slouch himself,” Ron revealed. “I should warn you though, he’s taken.”

“Just my luck,” Carl said feigning a downcast look.

“We’ve got each other to love Babe,” Nathan said. “We don’t need anyone else.”

“As long as I have you Nate, I don’t care how cute they are, I’m yours alone,” Carl said earnestly. “I was just pulling your chain. My body and my heart belong to only you.”

“Get a room,” Ron kidded, followed by reddened faces of the two young men. “Honestly, I’m glad you’re together. You make a cute couple, and it’s obvious that you care for each other. By the way Carl, you’ll be working with another laborer assigned to Pete. His name is David ben Sharif. I think he’s Lebanese, or something. He moved here from New York, I seem to remember.”

“He’s a rag-head?” Carl asked.

“I don’t appreciate derogatory labels,” Ron responded. “In my mind everyone, regardless of ethnicity, race or sexual persuasion starts out equal. Good people are good people, whatever their position in life. Everyone deserves a chance to make his own bed.”

“Sorry Ron,” Carl apologized. “I know better than that. It’s just my upbringing poking its ugly head through.”

“It’s my opinion that the biggest single problem in our world is that people are brought up thinking that others who are different than they are must be inferior and therefore are to be scorned. It’s the stuff that wars are made of, as well as terrorism. Understanding and acceptance are the tools of peace.”

“I stand corrected,” Carl again admitted. “It won’t happen again.”

Ron smiled.

“Sorry for the lecture,” Ron apologized as well, “but good manners, like incest, begin at home.”

The analogy went over Carl’s head, but Nathan was grinning like the Cheshire cat.

“When do we start work?” Nathan asked.

“Carl can start tomorrow,” Ron answered. “Nathan, you need to talk to Matt. The Arts Project is under the wing of the Trusts which Matt administers.”

“What’s a trust?” Carl asked. “I’ve heard you guys talking about it, but I’m not sure what it means.”

“A trust is simply money that’s put away and invested for some purpose. It could be a fund to raise your children or put away for lifetime income. In our case the Turner Trust is a charitable trust that provides funding for organizations that provide social services for others. The Art’s Trust is a special fund where money is set aside to support the Arts, like music, theater, or artwork such as paintings and sculpture.”

“I understand,” Carl said in gratitude. “It will be cool for you to be working there, Nathan. Maybe you’ll get so see some great artwork by Pablo Casal.”

“Uh, I think you mean Pablo Picasso, Carl,” Ron corrected. “Pablo Casal plays the cello.”

“Yeah, one of those,” Carl responded as Nathan stared at the ceiling to keep from laughing.

The intercom rang and Ron picked up the phone.

“Dave Rush is here to see you if you have time,” Margaret said.

“I’d love to see him. I’m through with the boys so I’ll see him as soon as I usher them out.”

“He’ll be waiting,” Margaret responded before disconnecting.

Ron returned the receiver to its cradle and turned to the boys.

“Nathan, you need to stop in and see Matt, then you guys are through here. Enjoy your last day of freedom,” he winked.

“K Ron,” Nathan said as he stood. “Come on Carl, let’s get movin’.”

“Bye Ron,” both guys said in unison. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome guys. On you’re way out would you ask Margaret to show Mr. Rush in?”

“Sure will,” Carl said as he held the door open for Nathan. “Later.”

A moment later the door again opened and Dave Rush appeared.

“Welcome Dave,” Ron said as he circled the desk and offered his hand. “Where's

“He had some business to attend to by phone. It was going to take a while, so I thought I’d come over and say goodbye.”

“Please have a seat,” Ron said indicating the conversation area. “You have to leave so soon?”

“Yes, I’m afraid so,” Dave said as he sat on an offered armchair. “It seems that Eric and I have more on our plate than we can handle. I love it though. Eric’s love for me puts new fire in the old firebox.”

“I’ve never heard it expressed quite that way before,” Ron admitted with a gleam in his eye that spoke of a double meaning, “but if you say so, it must be true.”

“I was referring to work, not to lovemaking,” Dave clarified, only a bit embarrassed, “but come to think of it, it fits that too,” he concluded with a grin.

“I’m pleased that you’re so happy together,” Ron said. “It’s great to find other gays who have found true partners. I feel the same with Matt. We’re in this together for the long haul. My brother Tyler and his lover Dan feel similarly.

“I really came by to thank you for your warm hospitality,” Dave explained. “You, and the others that we’ve met here are the antithesis of how gays are visualized by the heterosexual majority. We’re just regular people, not some strange concoction of yellow hair and weird clothes. I’m not putting anyone down, as I think we each have a right to be perceived as we wish, but I feel a special kinship to you and your friends that we’ve met on this trip.”

“It was a great pleasure to have you and Eric here Dave,” Ron responded. “I think that those of us gays such as the ones you’ve met have a unique opportunity. Whether we like it or not we’re visible, yet we don’t hide our sexuality. On the other hand, we don’t flaunt it either. You’re right, we’re just regular people who happen to be successful. Perhaps through us just being ourselves, we’ll show that straight world a different kind of gay than they’ve been led to expect.”

“I’m not one to carry a banner,” Dave declared.

“Neither are we,” Ron agreed. “That’s the beauty of it. We can show by being rather than by demanding. I’m not saying that there’s not room for both, but as for Matt and me, we won’t be leading any parades.”

“It’s great to meet others who feel like we do,” said Dave. “When you’re at the top of your own ‘company heap’ it’s hard sometimes to believe that your subordinates truly accept you as you are. I know in my heart that they do, but nevertheless you sometimes wonder. Here we’ve met several gay successful businessmen. They owe nothing to us, yet have made us feel part of the family. We thank you for that.”

“You are part of the family,” Ron affirmed. “You and/or Eric are always welcome here. Not because you’re good looking, or successful, but because you’re our intellectual and emotional kin. We love you and hope that you love us as well.”

“You can be sure that we do,” asserted the older man. “Now,” he said rising, “I have to go. Eric will be waiting.”

“Give him a kiss from us,” Ron requested.

“It will be my pleasure,” Dave beamed.

The two men stood, kissed each other lightly as friends, embraced in a warm hug, then Dave exited the room. The door had hardly closed when Margaret came bustling in.

“It’s time for the lunch meeting and I’m not ready,” she said dashing about.

“Take your time Margaret,” Ron suggested. “There is still ten minutes, and if we start a few minutes late, it won’t matter. We’ll help out, or just chat. Sometimes the informal contact is more productive than the meeting. Now what can I do to help?”

“Just get out of the way,” Margaret directed. “I’m an old hand at this.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Ron said jokingly, heading for the door.

                         *                      *                      *
Noon, Ron’s office

Tyler, Dan, and Matt followed Ron into his office where a buffet luncheon had been set up. In addition to the regular fare of sandwiches, munchies and drinks, Margaret had set up a slow cooker full of beans and ham soup.

“Mmmm, smells good,” Matt commented.

“Tell that to Margaret when she comes back in,” Ron suggested. “It’s her homemade specialty.”

The four men began to fill their plates and bowls, but before they could finish and take their places at the conference table, the office door opened and Will Nuggent, Jan Bounett and Margaret filed in.

“The soup smells delicious, Margaret,” complimented Matt. “I’m anxious to taste it.”

“You’ll like it or else,” Ron laughed. “Never cross swords with a man’s secretary.”

“You’ve got that right,” Margaret agreed with a stern look, then a wink. “Thanks Matt.”

The newcomers headed toward the buffet where the earlier foursome had just left.

Ron’s desk phone began to ring.

“Darn!” Margaret said. “Derrick’s covering the phones and I told him that we don’t want to be disturbed.”

She walked to the phone, picking it up and saying, “This is Margaret.”

Her eyes opened a bit when she heard the response, then holding the phone away from her ear looked at Ron and said, “It’s Tony Tegano.”

“I’ll take it,” Ron said as he pushed away from the table and hurried to his desk.

“He’s coming,” Margaret said before pushing the disconnect button followed by pushing the blinking button, then handing the handset to Ron.

Taking the receiver from Margaret, Ron spoke into the mouthpiece, “Hi Tone.”

“Hi Ron,” Tony said back.

“I wasn’t sure you were still in town,” Ron commented.

“We are, but not for long. Actually we’re at your hangar. When we got back from your place yesterday, we had a message from Jan Bounett from your office that two seats on one of your planes were available for our trip back to Houston.”

“Good! That must be the plane that’s returning Jeff Davis and Phil Thompson to the Windy City. You met them at the party. They head up our Turner Consulting’s Chicago Office.”

“Wonderful!” Jake said, sounding pleased. “Yes, we met them and were most impressed. It will be wonderful to talk shop with them. You know we own several large businesses.”

“Good operations, so I’ve been told,” Ron replied. “Maybe you’ll get to have a good visit on the flight. They are a whiz at analyzing and helping businesses.”

“That’s very kind of you,” responded Jake. “It’s one of the reasons that I called.”

“Oh?” Ron queried.

“Yes. Of course we wanted to say goodbye and thank you for the hospitality, but my partner Jake and I have been talking some business too. You’ve heard of Tegano Constructors?”

“Of course,” Ron replied. “It’s the fifth largest construction company in the world. I kind of remember that you own it through your natural father. As I understand it, you inherited your family’s interest when your parents were lost in an automobile crash.”

“Yes that’s correct. I own 85% and a few relatives have the minor interests,” Jake confirmed. “I never had much interest in construction and over the years it seemed to take care of itself. However the last couple of years the company’s performance has been lackluster at best. We’ve got four other Companies that keep us hopping. The camp too is a fairly recent passion that we both enjoy and would like to expand to other cities. Therefore, neither Jake nor I have any desire to get involved in the operations, but we sense are problems that need to be looked into.”

“I’m sure that Jeff and Phil could handle that for you. They have quite a bit of experience in that field, and of course can be backed up by our operations people at Turner Construction. For that matter, we could handle it out of our Las Vegas office if you prefer.”

“Uh, I’m sure either would work,” Tony acknowledged. “We had a different idea though.”

“Whatever you want,” Ron agreed.

“Uh… well, we were wondering if you’d be interested in …buying Tegano Constructors?”

Ron sat down in his chair with his mouth hanging open. After a moment’s pause to get over his surprise, he responded. “Yes of course, if the price is attractive.”

“It will be,” Tony responded. The company is doing around $7 billion in current contracts and has another 7 or 8 in new contracts lined up for the next year or so.”

“How much is the sales price?” Ron questioned.

“It’s worth at least $4 billion, but to realize it’s potential we’d have to get involved full-time. It’s not what we really want to do. We’re offering it to you for $2.5 billion.”

“…We’re very interested,” asserted Ron quickly with the numbers running through his head. “What are the terms?”

“$1.5 billion in cash at closing and $250 million a year for four years, plus 8% interest on the unpaid balance.”

“When would you like to close the sale?” Ron asked smiling through his shock.

“Would 60 days be too soon?” Tony asked.

“Not if we have access to the books right away,” Ron agreed. “How much earnest money do you want?”

“None,” Tony declared. “I think you’ll find the offer too good to turn down.”

“I concur,” Ron said. “If you’ll permit Jeff Davis, Phil Thompson and a few of our accounting staff access to your records, we can give you a firm answer in a week.”

“Agreed,” Jake said.

“Feel free to begin discussions on the plane,” advised Ron. “I’ll call them and give the purchase top priority. Do you mind me asking what you’d like to do with the money?”

“Not at all. As you may know, we are well covered personally by Trust funds from both our families. We’d like to take half of the proceeds of the sale for our Trusts and put the rest into charities. There is a lot of work to do. We’d like to discuss linking up our giving with the Friendship Trust too, if the investment returns to charity are as good as you say.”

“I’ll have Alan give you a call from New York and pay you a visit. I’ll send my Matt from here too as he administers the Turner Trusts that are our funding source for the Friendship Trust.”

“That would be great!” Tony declared. “We hope you’ll come too. We’d like you to stay with us.”

“If and when we come, it will probably be at least four of us from Las Vegas. I suspect that besides myself and Matt, Tyler and Dan will want to come too.”

“That’s fine,” Tony confirmed. We have four empty guest rooms in our condo.”

“It must be pretty big,” Ron observed.

“We currently have 1 ½ floors so we have plenty of room. Oh and bring your swimsuits; Jake wants to see you, and especially Tyler, nearly naked. …… Oooof!…” Tony said laughing as

“You guys are something else!” Ron added his laughter to the hunky Italian’s “I’ll call the whiz kids right away, and get them started. I’ll be in touch soon.”

“Thanks Ron. Give our best to Matt, Tyler and Dan too.”

“I will. Thanks Tony. Please give our thanks to your Jake. Goodbye.”

“Hugs,” Tony responded as Ron hung up the phone.

 *          *            *            *            *