The author reserves all copyright privileges. This work may not be reproduced, except for personal use without the permission of the author, and may not be linked to pay sites.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to my friend Ry, who inspired it, and Don Hanratty who encouraged me to post it here.
I wish to thank my new editor Bill, for his help in making this work more enjoyable to the reader.
If you would like to E-mail any comments my E-mail address is JETjt@aol.com John Tucker
RON AND BRYAN
Wednesday morning it decided to rain in Las Vegas. For most visitors from elsewhere, the occasion might not seem unusual, but for the residents, the overcast sky seemed almost foreboding. The only saving grace to the wet weather was the freshness of the air, which usually was a mix of dust from the dry landscape and the "soot" from the emissions of industrial "progress".
Ron was driving his Mercedes sedan toward his office as he reviewed in his mind the major events planned for the day. As usual, his first task was one of reviewing the status of his businesses and investments. He then normally had a period where he could follow up on unfinished business and make a few phone calls as needed.
The first thing differing from his normal routine was a 10 A.M. meeting with the two new "whiz kids," Jeff Davis and Phil Thompson. He planned on inviting them to his home for dinner and casual conversation early next week, but had not committed yet because of the chaos of the last few days. Turner Consulting was indeed fortunate that they were available immediately, especially with the vacuum left by Ted's demise and Jack's injuries. Ron looked forward to getting to know them better.
The second thing worthy of note was the anticipated phone call from Richard in New York. Ron hoped that Bryan's dad was getting the needed help from Dr. Carrington. If he had to, Ron could certainly wait for the awakening of Richard's mind, but he was impatient to bring happiness to his younger friend. Bryan had suffered the rejection of his father too long. Ron had instructed Margaret that if the call came into the office, he was to be interrupted without regard for what else he might be doing. If he were out of the office, the call was to be forwarded to his cellular phone.
Jack was doing incredibly well considering his injuries and the great personal loss of Ted his partner in both his love and career. He was, in fact, doing so well that Ron had been able to persuade his physician to release him so that he could attend Ted's visitation and funeral. However it was approved only on the condition that he not exert himself and that he conserve his strength.
Jack had also agreed to accompany Ron on his New York trip, although Jack's activities would be limited by his endurance. Ron had E-mailed Bryan and had called Matt with the news. They knew that it would complicate the trip but agreed out of their respect for Ron's judgement.
Jack had accepted the invitation gratefully, knowing that he was not yet ready to face being alone in the house that he and Ted had shared. It was not convenient, certainly, for Ron who had planned a busy trip, but it was the least Ron could do for the young man who was his friend.
Ted and Jack were, in Ron's mind, like younger brothers. Their few years' age difference from that of their employer's enhanced that image. Completing the picture had been the light hearted camaraderie shared between the three men. Only the great and obvious love between the younger pair of the team had served as a reminder that two of the pseudo family had a deeper bond than mere brotherhood. That bond was now broken, at least physically, by the death of Ted. Ron was not willing to leave his remaining "younger brother" to his loneliness.
Ron's early afternoon would be spent reviewing with his legal and financial advisers the progress on the plan to take Construction Leasing private. Owning and operating a public company did not fit within Ron's list of preferences.
Besides the mountain of paperwork required by the SEC for such a company, the disadvantages of freedom of movement and the possibility of minority stockholder law suits were things that were not a distraction in a company owned privately. The principal reason for a company being or going public was the ability to raise money through other than banking sources. That was not a problem for Ron. The high liquidity of his convertible investments and the abundance of cash allowed him free reign in his mastery of providing funds for any venture he chose. Banks loved to loan money to people with plenty of it.
At three o'clock Ron would get Jack from the hospital and drive him home to pick up a few things that would be needed for the coming trip to New York. From Jack's home they would go to Ron's where they would stay until it was time to go to the Funeral Parlor for the visitation. Parker had purchased for Jack a new charcoal suit with appropriate matching accessories for the somber occasion since the young man's most formal wear was limited to sports coats and trousers.
Jack and Ted had discussed, in one of their more serious moments, the possibility of cremation upon their demise; But when faced with the inescapable decision, Jack had decided on the purchase of two adjacent grave sites where the men's bodies could rest forever beside each other. All the preparations were completed, and now he had only now to endure the parting with the beautiful physical form that had embodied the love of his life. .
* * * *
The large German automobile effortlessly climbed the darkened foothills of the mountain which defined the western border of the city below. The two passengers, dressed in their dark suits, rode silently, deep in their own thoughts.
The visitation had been difficult but heart warming. Jack had been amazed at the number of people who came to show their love and support. In many ways the closeness that the two partners felt for each other had masked their recognition of the effect that their own love had on others. That effect now showed itself unmistakably. The love dispensed so freely by Ted was offered back by the many saddened friends who came to express their loss with the one who had shared Ted's ultimate love.
Yet there was a brighter side. It was of the memories relived of the handsome man with the smiling face and the joking friend who would not leave a depressed spirit remain that way. It was of the young man who could light a room simply by entering it. The love that had emanated from his very presence was reflected back to his partner by those others who had been its beneficiaries.
Jack's wearied face exposed a tiny smile at the remembrances that his friends had shared with him throughout the evening, "Yes, the world was a better, happier place because of the life and love of Ted Thornton."
Ron himself was impressed with the outpouring of love shown during the evening. It reminded him that the wealth and power that he now could wield meant little as you went to your inevitable rest. It was only the love and kindness that you left behind that was important. Only the loving memories that remained would live on in the hearts and minds of those you had touched.
Ron was gladdened by the thought that he had been given the opportunity to leave something else behind for the future long past his demise. He could provide for the relief of the suffering and for giving hope to those less fortunate. He knew that it was not his personal gratification that mattered. He also knew that his monetary gifts to those in need would help bodies, but not touch hearts. A most important part of his offering would provide the sustenance necessary to support those whose lives were dedicated to serving others with their own personal caring.
He thought of Alan. Ron's heart was grateful that this intelligent loving man had agreed to accept the torch to bring such people together. He smiled, as his thoughts concluded, "Yes, there lives a man who is equal to that noble task."
* * * *
Jack and Ron sat down at the breakfast table. A light breakfast placed there of muffins, fruit and coffee would satisfy their diminished appetites on this sad day. Ron looked over at his friend. His body was healing fast but his face was blank with only a hint of the grim determination he kept inside; a resolve to last through this most dreaded of all days. This resolution was almost broken as he remembered the many times that Ted and he had shared such a meal. He suddenly had a overwhelming desire for just one more day with his lover. Tears filled his eyes as he fought to control his emotions.
The tears were not missed by Ron. Taking his friends hand, he said, " I'd like to pray."
Jack was grateful for the chance to conceal his tears for a moment from his friend.
"Lord," Ron began, "I ask that you place your healing hand upon our hearts. We thank you for the life and love of our departed brother Ted. The joys that he shared in his wonderful life with us and with others sets the highest standard for us who remain here now. Give us the power and wisdom, that was his, to rise to his shining example. We will miss his physical presence in our lives, but we know that he lives on with you and in our hearts. Now as we take this humble meal, we ask that it give us the strength and courage to go forward into the light with your guidance. Amen"
"Thank you Ron, that was beautiful."
The men began to eat in silence, each thinking their own thoughts. There was nearly two and a half hours left when they had finished their light breakfast until they need to be as the funeral home where the service was to he held. Ron asked Jack to accompany him on a walk around the property over winding paths that had been constructed for jogging shortly after the house had been completed.
The men changed into running shorts and shoes with Jack borrowing needed clothing including a new jock which was still in the box, thanks to Parker's propensity for have back-ups of Ron's undergarments. They hit the trail at a leisurely walk. Jack was tempted to try jogging, but Ron convinced him that it was too soon after his release from the hospital. After completing the one mile circuit twice, Ron told his visitor that it was time to call it enough. They were sweating but not overheated as they hit the showers within their own suites.
* * * *
"Damn, you're good looking," Ron thought as he admired his body in the large bathroom mirror. "Nice package too!" He laughed at himself as he stepped into the steaming enclosure. He had always been slim with not much muscle mass. But three years of dedicated workouts had added some definition to his limbs and torso. He never had much interest in 'bulking up' but was pleased with the toning of his body that showed as the result of his efforts.
His dick started to rise, getting ready for it's own morning exercise. After rinsing off completely, he applied liquid soap to his hands and soon was covered with the slippery foam. As the thought of Matt formed in his mind, his right hand grasped the rigid rod which started its travels between his pubic hairs and the tip of his generous organ. At first it moved slowly. Then, as his penis stiffened even more, its tempo increased. His nerves became tense as he approached climax. Unconsciously, he raised his body on the balls of his feet as his dick erupted with a powerful blast of creamy fluid. Five thick streams of cum decorated the shower wall before the last offering of his body oozed out of his spent cock. He smiled in satisfaction as he stepped into the warm spray to rinse his body, before beginning his shampoo.
In a distant guest room shower Jack was not so stimulated. He had almost completely avoided looking at his beautiful body in the mirror. He knew that in his mind's eye he would see Ted's body beside him as he had so many delightful mornings before. He remembered how they used to kid each other about the necessity of "saving the desert's most precious resource, water," as a lame excuse for their regular showers together. They both recognized that if they lived in Seattle, they would have just found a different alibi to rub their bodies with more than just soap.
Jack completed his shower quickly with no wasted motion. There was no reason to linger there even though the absence of his partner had allowed his body more than enough time to produce the fluids stored within until released. His mind would not allow his body any pleasure today. It was focused on maintaining his composure to see him through the next few hours.
Ron met Jack in the breakfast room. They were dressed again for the ordeal that they had yet to face and smiled with brave faces as each drank another cup of coffee silently before leaving.
* * * *
The music had been low, but beautiful, as the mourners arrived and filled the pews to capacity. Looking at the space, the absence of the usual festoons of flowers was apparent. Jack had requested that in lieu of the arrangements, that contributions be sent to Turner Charitable Trust where a special memorial fund had been opened.
The copper colored casket lay open with the body of their friend within. He looked as beautiful in death as he did in life, except that the smile was missing. He appeared to be simply sleeping.
The pastor conducting the memorial service was an acquaintance of Ron, a gay friendly man of the cloth who was well respected in the city. The service began with the reading of appropriate passages of scripture and with a few words of comfort from the clergyman speaking from a small pulpit. A young black youngster then rose and with a haunting voice sang a sweet song of God's love for his own.
After the echoes of the melody disappeared from hearing, Charlie Parker rose and stepped to the podium. Ted and Jack's boss recounted his memories of the two young men. He told of their hiring and of their triumphs together in their job. He relayed how Ted's humor and wit had brought to the office a light hearted spirit whose influence all of his coworkers came to cherish. He told of incidents where Ted had helped in the charity work that they all found so rewarding. Toward the end of his remembrances and praise, he told of how Ted, this young gay man, had helped him overcome domestic problems that he himself was having with his wife. As he looked at his wife, Charlie related how the wonderful man, who knew only kindness, helped him to put back into his own life the love that had slipped away from his marriage.
There was not a dry eye in the chapel as Charlie confessed to all who had gathered there, what a vacuum that Ted's passing would leave in their workplace and in their hearts.
Charlie's words had brought Jack to the breaking point. His only compulsion was to climb into the beautiful box that held his only true love, to be with him in death and eternity.
Jack felt the release of Ron's hand, which had been holding his own and which had been his strength from the beginning of the service.
The handsome man rose and approached the dais after pausing to gaze at the reclining body of his deceased friend. With a tear in his eye, he stepped on the raised platform. Turning to address those assembled and to his young friend whose hand he had held, Ron began speaking with a smile. The upturned lips belied the loss that he himself, was feeling.
"I did not come here to mourn our friend, but to celebrate his life. It is not wrong to mourn his passing, for mourning is a part of healing. As an old Irish proverb has said, 'It is in the shelter of each other that people live.' We all have lived in the shelter of Ted's love and caring. ... Now he has gone, ....but has he really?"
"As Charlie Parker has remembered in his words, Ted was a great healer. He would want us to go on; to continue with what he has taught us. It is a great legacy that we can't ignore, not if we honor his memory"
"Will I miss him? Like the brother and great friend that he was to me and as he was to all of you. But, I am here to say that I know that Ted is in a better place, a place where hearts of full of joy. If he were standing here, he would smile at our foolishness. I am here to speak in his behalf."
"He looks down on us now and is saying, 'My dear friends, don't be dispirited. I have left a part of me there -- a part that will comfort you when you are sad -- a part that will help you through difficult times and will insist that you help others whose lives are troubled. If you honor my memory; if you honor that love that I have shared with you, then you will heed these words.'
'To the love of my life, I have already spoken. He knows that we are together until time itself vanishes. You too, should hear me and know that I am still there with you, to bring you help and the joy that I see now in life's fullness. The memories of my life that I have shared with you, can be called on in time of need. This strength will see you through. For life, in spite of its tragedies is good; but it is only good if you make it good. '
'I have done my part. Now I leave the rest up to you. Make the world a happier place. Share your love with others. It is God's greatest gift and it needs to be given away by you. If you do, you will receive its rewards many times over. Remember that I love you, and that your God loves you.'
Now Ron spoke for himself.
"Let us pray."
The congregation bowed their heads.
"Lord, we thank you for bringing our wonderful friend into our lives. We return him now to your care. May the lessons that he taught us live on in our hearts. That lesson is the same that you have commanded - That we love one another. Amen."
Ron raised his head, smiled at those gathered, stepped off the platform and returned to his seat.
The pastor nodded at Jack, who rose and slowly stepped to the casket. Bending over the reclining form he touched the lips of his lover one last time with his own. Jack then raised his body slowly until vertical while looking at his lost love through flooding eyes. Turning, he returned to his seat.
Attendants approached the coffin and closed the lid for its final time.
The pastor stood, and after a short benediction, Ron and five others of his friends approached the coffin and moved it slowly toward the waiting hearse. As the pall bearers passed, Jack stood and followed the coffin from the room.
The procession moved in a long line of slow moving vehicles with lights ablaze toward the cemetery. On arriving there, the body was moved to the grave site and Ted's friends gathered to share their last respects for their friend.
The pastor said his final words of comfort and offered a parting prayer.
Jack rose and turned to their friends and spoke for the first time since the funeral had begun.
"I would like to read to you a poem by Pablo Neruda, that Ted gave to me when we first found each other."
He recited from memory.
"It is I my love,
who knocks at your door.
It is not just the ghost,
it is not the one
who once stopped at your window.
I knock at your door.
I enter your life.
I come to live in your soul."
Turning to the coffin, Jack said softly, "You still live in my soul, Ted. I will love you forever."
He returned to his seat.
The Pastor then turned, lifted his arms and recited a closing benediction for the assemblage. The funeral was over.
Ron and Jack remained behind after their other friends had departed. Alone at last, Jack dropped to his knees and with his eyes closed and his hands clasped together, said good bye to the body belonging to the man that he loved so much in life.
* * * * * * *
........ I have no more words to add. ......John Tucker