The author reserves copyright privileges. This work may not be reproduced, except for personal use without the permission of the author.
Dedication: To Ry and Don. I’d like to thank the many authors and readers who have been so supportive of this story, especially my favorite reader Dan B.
If you’d like to comment or say Hi, I’m at JETjt@aol.com. John Tucker
RON AND BRYAN
The Mercedes sedan pulled onto the driveway bridge connecting the drive to the main house of Ron’s opulent Las Vegas estate. Matt was in the driver’s seat and Ron occupied the front passenger seat. In the rear were Tony and his mother, Mabel.
On the trip home from the courthouse, Tony had given his mother a brief and highly edited version of his life since running away from home a month earlier. While he made no attempt to disguise what had really happened to him during his misadventure with Fat Charlie, he was careful to downplay or delete the more gruesome details. Mabel in turn told him of the happenings at home on their farm, and how Tyler had rescued them from the clutches of Luke, her estranged husband. More than one tear was shed during the journey, but the pervasive sense of relief and comfort that had been so generously displayed by Ron and those he loved and trusted, gave them both hope that there was a promise of a better life ahead.
The front door of Ron’s house suddenly burst open and two blond boys, obviously brothers, raced toward the stopped car. Seeing their approach, Tony hurriedly opened his door and jumping out, rushed toward his two brothers, enveloping them in his outstretched arms.
Petey, the older of the two, spoke for both of their feelings while Georgey cried with happiness. “We missed y’all so much bubba, wer so glad yer back!” he bubbled in rapture. “Did mom tell ya ‘bout whut happent w’ Tyler ‘n’ ol Luke?”
“She shore did! Sounds lak he got whut was cummin’ to ‘im”
“Yeah, but Ah ‘mos’ peed muh britches wen thet cocksucker Tommy showed up.
Ah feered we wus gonners fer sher! Thet Tyler, he’s one tuff booger. He had
thet damn Tommy cuffed to thet post slicker‘n snot on a doorknob. Then ol’
Luke gits up, goed fer Tyler ‘n’ wif two punches Tyler knocks ‘im clean out
lak a laht. Them bastids ‘r’ prolly still wunern’ whut happent! I’s funny
now, but at th’ time, it skeerd the holy bujesus outa me! Guesss who else
we see’d?” Petey asked.
“I dunno. Who else?”
“Wayl we wus hightailin’ it outta ther, hell bent fer ‘lection. Ol’ Tyler he’s apourin’ on the gas, ‘n’ all a suddin, he slams on th’ brakes and we go skiddin’ t’ a stop. Next he goes drivin’ bakkerds ‘n’ slams on th’ brakes agin. Ya cain’t buleev what he done next! Turnt th’ steerin’ wheel ‘n’ steps on th’ gas ‘n’ we go tearin’ inta th’ Johnson farmyard, ‘n’ skidded thet ol’ car t’a stop in a cloud o’ dust. Grammaw ‘n’ Grampaw Johnson cum runnin’ out t’ see whut the fuss wus all ‘bout. Jes’ then Johnny cum outta th’ house too.
“Johnny?” Tony said excitedly, “Whut happened then?”
“Ol’ Tyler, he goes jumpin’ outta the car wif a piec’a paper in ‘is han’ ‘n’ he scribbles sumpin’ on’t, goes arunnin’ over t’Grampaw Johnson, sez sumpin’ to ‘im ‘n’ sticks th’ paper in ’is han’. Grampaw’s alis’nin’ ‘n’ purty soon Tyler he cums runnin’ back ta th’. car, jumps in, ‘n’ we skedaddled outta thar. Now ain’t thet jes’ th’ werdes’ thang?”
“Fer dang sher. Ah’m gonna ask ‘im ‘bout it, soon ‘s Ah git a chance, but fer now, lil bro’s,” Tony said. “ ‘n’ frum whut Ah seen ’n’ heer’d s’fer, we got us a whole lotta thankin’ t’do t’Ron ‘n’ Tyler.”
The boys released Tony and turned to Ron who had joined them from the car. They quickly moved to him, wrapping their small arms around his waist.
“Thankee Mr. Ron,” Petey said as he delivered a huge hug.
“Thankee Sir,” Georgey agreed, echoing his brother’s action in his little high voice.
“You’re sure welcome boys. We love having you as part of our family.” Ron smiled at the cute youngsters who were quickly capturing his heart.
Seeing Tyler emerge from the home’s front door, the little ones tore off to deliver a new round of thanks to their rescuer. Tyler bent low and kissed each boy’s cheek as he encircled the two in his strong arms. Mabel’s eyes filled with tears as she saw happiness on the faces of her offspring. Tony, in the meantime, had moved to Ron’s arms.
“I dunno how t’ thankee proper lak, sir, but Ah sher em glad we gottcha fer a friend. Ya bin s’good t’us, if’n ya ever got a need fer enathin’ ‘er we kin do enathin’ fer ya, wi’ll bust ar asses fer ya, ‘n’ thet’s a fer sher! Ah dunno whut’s gonna happ’n wit’ th’ Fat Charlie thang, but iffin’ Ah gits freed, y’kin betcher butt, thet Ah’d work ferever fer ya, fer nothin’.”
“Thanks Tony. Tyler, Matt and I love you guys. We’re gonna do our best to keep you with your family, and get you going in a good life. Your happiness will be more than enough payment.”
“If’n thet’s the case, Ron,” Mabel said likewise wrapping her arms around her son and their benefactor, “then, y’already made one whuppin’ down paym’nt.”
Ron smiled at Mabel, then glancing at Matt, invited him to join in the group hug.
* * *
Lunch was over and the Ohio boys accepted Tim and Hans’ invitation to take a swim in the pool. Even though the weather was cool, the pool was heated, the sun bright overhead and there was no wind. Ron asked Matt and Mabel to join him in the study. When they were all comfortably seated Ron looked toward Mabel and asked, “Mabel, have you thought about what your plans will be once the trial situation is over with Tony?”
“Ah bin worryin’ ‘bout it raht feersum, Ron. Know ah gotta git me sum kinda job and take keer o’ my boys though. Ah’m a hard worker, but mostly whut ah know is farmin’ ‘n’ takin’ keer o’ menfolk. Don’ ‘spec ther’s much need fer thet outcheer. Don’ look lak ther’s meny farms in this here desert. Ah know Ah look lak ‘n’ talk lak a country hick too. Don’ ‘magine meny respect’ble folks would wan’ someone sorta crude ‘round ther place.
“Don’t be so sure of that Mabel. I think Matt and I are pretty respectable and we like having you around. What I was going to offer you was a job, if you’re interested.”
“Heck yeah, Ron. Ah’ll take it whute’er ya gotta mind fer.”
“Don’t you want to know what the pay is, or what the job is?”
“Ron, Ah give up tryin’ t’outguess ya. Ever’ time Ah git over how wunnerful ya bin to us ya cum up wit’ sumpin’ ev’n gooder. Ah know Ah ain’t much, ‘n’ Ah ain’t had much learnin’ ‘n’ stuff, but ya name it, and Ah’m gonna do it. Ya dun saved us from thet werthless Luke, ‘n’ yer doin’ th’ bes’ ya kin fer muh Tony’s pro’lems wit’ th’ law. If’n ya ne’er did nothin’ else Ah’d be gratifahd t’ya ferever. Lak Ah sed, ya jes’ point, ‘n’ Ah’ll git it dun. I trust ya thatchu’ll be fair t’ me ’n’ the boys.”
“I’m thinking out loud now, so we may want to make some adjustments later, but here’s what I have in mind. A year ago, I decided to fund a home for runaway boys here in Las Vegas through Tyler and my family’s charity organization. Some are gay and some are straight. The small campus for that facility is nearly complete. I’d like you to be in charge of the housekeeping of that small complex. We own some other buildings here too, that you could take care of. There is far too much work for one or two people, so we would set you up with a small company with a few employees to do the work and it would be your job to see that the work gets done. We would hire an office manager to take care of the books and the scheduling, but he or she would work for you. You would do the hiring and see that the work was accomplished properly. Would that interest you?”
“Wull, Ah sher know ‘bout cleanin’ up after boys, tha’s fer dang sher. Ah aint too sher ‘bout the business stuff though. Ah’m a might unlearn’t in a lotta thet stuff.”
“Don’t worry about that now Mabel. You’ll get all the help you need. Excuse me for changing the subject, but let’s talk about school a little. We need to get the boys in school as soon as possible. We’ll have to wait until Tony’s case is resolved to be concerned too much about him now, but in the meantime, we should get Petey and Georgey in school.”
“Yep, Ah’ll be glad o’ thet. Ol’ Luke he din’t cotton t’schoolin’ much, ‘n’ kep’ pullin’ th’ boys outa school t’werk on th’ farm. ‘Fraid ther schoolin’ ain’t bin too good.”
“Well, we’ll get them placed at whatever level where they can do the work, and if they need help, we’ll get them help.”
“Thet‘s more’n fine wi’ me, Ron. Don’ wannem growin’ up ignernt.”
“Good then, Mabel. We’ll get them enrolled this week. Tim is starting classes tomorrow, but I doubt that we’ll be able to start the younger boys ‘til next week. Tony will probably not be able to start until after Christmas, at least.”
“Ron, could I suggest something?” Matt interjected.
“Of course, Matt, I’d welcome any ideas.”
“Why don’t we build a house in the compound for Mabel and the boys where Dorothy and Parker have theirs? There’s plenty of room there and I know that Dorothy would love to have Mabel and the boys for neighbors. Then the boys could use our pool and continue to be part of our family.”
“Great idea Matt. They can stay in the guesthouse here, while we’re doing it. If we get on it right away, we could have them settled by spring. Mabel can help Dorothy around here too, until the runaway campus gets finished and Dorothy is fully recovered.” Ron continued, turning to Mabel. “It would be a big favor to us to have you nearby. Dorothy recently suffered a heart attack and we don’t want her to overdo. She’s been like my own mother to me.”
“Ron, ya know Ah’ll say yes t’enathin’ ya want. Ah’m jes flustered a bit by all yer plans. Ah never dremt that life could be so promisin’.”
“Oh, one last thing, Mabel. I know that your country accent makes you feel out of place. I find it charming, but I know that the boys will have difficulty in school. Kids are very cruel. I took the liberty of asking a speech specialist to spend a few hours with you and the boys for the rest of the week. He can’t perform miracles, but with a modest amount of help, I think you can quickly pick up speech that is a bit more ‘citified.’ I think that if you and all the boys work with him this week, before school starts for them, it will make it far easier for them.”
“Goshamighty Ron, ya think o’ ever’thin’! But yer right, as usyal. I don’ wan’ them boys o’ mine ta have no trouble, ‘n’ I sher as shootin’ don’t want to be no ‘barr’ssment t’ya’ll.”
“My dear lady,” Ron said sincerely, “You could never be an embarrassment to us. We love you just like you are. We just know first hand that sometimes it’s difficult to be ‘different’.”
“Ah do thankee kindly fer all thet yer doin’ fer us. I dunno wher ya come from, but Ah’m athinkin’ it’s from th’ Almighty.”
Ron and Matt laughed. The phone rang so Ron stood and went to the desk.
“Ron Turner,” he spoke into the mouthpiece. “Hello Doctor…Yes…. Yes… Thank you. Please send the bill to the office. I appreciate your speedy work. …. Goodbye”
“What is it, Ron?” Matt asked.
“The tests came back as a match. Tyler and I definitely are brothers.”
Mabel was confused, but decided that it didn’t matter. It was obvious from the smile on Ron’s face that he was very happy. She smiled too.”
“How are you feeling, my love?” Matt asked as Ron slipped under the sheets, still damp from the shower.
“I’m a bit tired, I have to admit,” Ron answered as he snuggled close to his partner. “The day’s excitement and exertion have gotten to me more than I imagined. I’m sure though, that in a few days, I’ll be a hundred percent. Things are lookin’ up.”
“They’re feelin’ up too,” Matt replied as his hand found Ron’s hard tool. “I’d say that part of ya is up 100 % right now.”
“Oh no ya don’t! Tonight is my turn to give you the pleasurin’. I might be tired, but I’ll never get better unless I stretch things a bit.”
Matt grinned. “Glad you brought that up you sweet man. I’ve got something right here that needs stretchin’.”
Matt threw back the light sheet covering their bodies, and raised his legs toward the ceiling.
“How much I love you babe, you’ll never know,” Ron said as he moved into position.
“Show me what you can, my sweet lover. I’ll imagine the rest.”
* * *
Jack approached the doorway of the jail complex where he was to meet the detective.
Opening the door he crossed the lobby that held a few people sitting on the wood benches, waiting. As he approached the elevated counter behind which the desk-sergeant sat, the uniformed man looked up.
“May I help you?”
“Yes, my name is Jack Smith. Detective Sunderson is expecting me.”
The sergeant looked at a clipboard schedule, and said, “Yes, Mr. Smith, it’s on the schedule. I’ll call him.”
Picking up the phone the officer announced Jack to the detective, then hung up the phone.
“He’ll be with you in a moment. Please feel free to have a seat.”
“Thank you,” Jack offered. Turning to the benches, he was at first reluctant to join the rather unkempt group that was waiting, but thinking that the wait might be long, approached an empty seat next to a woman who he guessed must have weighed 300 pounds.
Before he could be seated, he heard a voice call out, “Mr. Smith?”
He looked in the direction of the call, and saw an attractive middle-aged man in a suit, holding the door open to a hallway. Pleased that he didn’t have to wait, he walked to the outstretched hand of the plain-clothes officer.
”Hi, I’m Eric Sunderson. We spoke on the phone. Thank you for your cooperation.
If you’ll follow me, we’ll get started.”
“Sure, the sooner we get this over, the better I’ll like it.”
Jack stepped through the doorway, following the detective. The door closed behind him, clicking as the electric lock engaged. After walking about 150 feet down the long hallway, Detective Sunderson came to a door, which he unlocked by sliding a plastic card through the slot in the lock release mechanism. Jack followed the suited man through the doorway, and entered a dimly lit room that had two tables with several chairs facing a glass wall through which a long stage set-up could be seen. At the tables were two other people, a man and a woman.
“Jack, I’d like you to meet Detectives Lisa Crunk and Fred Mackey. They are working with me on this case. Lisa, Fred, this is Jack Smith, one of the victims.’
“A pleasure,” Fred and Jack both said, as they exchanged handshakes.
“Thank you for coming,” Lisa said next, extending her hand.
Taking the small hand and smiling, Jack said, “You’re welcome. Glad to help”
They all were seated and Lisa began.
“Jack, what you’re going to see is a line-up of several men. Some of them have no connection with this case. The others are our suspects. We’d like you to identify any that you can from the incident. If you’re not sure, let us know that too. If you’re positive, that will be most helpful. The prisoners cannot see you, so you have no need to be concerned about that. Do you have any questions?”
“No, thank you. I understand. I’m ready.”
Fred pushed a button on a microphone sitting on the table and said into the mike, “We’re ready.”
Moments later the door at one end of the “stage room” opened and two uniformed officers escorted a line of 8 men onto the stage. The men faced the window through which Jack studied them intently. After a moment, the officers told them to turn to one side so that their profiles could be seen, then they were asked to turn their backs to the window, then their other side profile, and finally to face the front again.
“I’m sure of number 3 and 5,” Jack said. “They were involved in my attack. Numbers one and 7 look familiar, but I’m not sure that they were there. I really don’t recognize anyone else.”
The three detectives opened a book of mug shots and identified the prisoners that Jack had recognized. After again verifying with Jack that the photos were the same persons, Fred spoke again into the microphone. “Identification complete.” The prisoners filed off the stage. The detectives questioned Jack about the specific involvement in his attack by the identified suspects, which he answered to the best of his recollection.
After Fred and Lisa completed their questioning and said goodbye, Detective Sunderson escorted Jack to the waiting room, telling him that they would be in touch with him. Jack left the building, climbed into his car and headed for the RET offices. It was time, at last to return to his job, the job he had not performed since Ted’s death.
* * *
Jack entered the RET offices and was greeted by smiles and ‘welcome backs’ from his co-workers. As he approached Ron’s outer office, Margaret looked up in welcome.
“Ron would like you to stop in as soon as it’s convenient, Jack. It’s nothing urgent.”
“Would right now be ok? I’m here so it would probably be the most convenient time for me, if Ron is available.”
“Sure, let me check” Margaret responded.
Picking up the phone she dialed the number, said a few words to Ron, then again returned the handset to its cradle. Smiling she said, “Ron’s free. Please go right in.”
Jack moved to the door, pressed down on the lever handle and entered the room. As he looked around he saw Ron intently studying reports and correspondence that Margaret had saved during their cruise for his review. Placing the paper that he had been studying back on the small stack of papers that he had yet to finish, he motioned for Jack to join him at his desk.”
“Hi Jack, welcome back.”
“Thanks Ron, it’s good to be back.”
“How did it go at Metro?” Ron asked.
“I was able to identify two of the men, without a doubt. Two others I thought I recognized, but wasn’t sure. The parking lot lighting was not too good that night and it was all too much of a jumble. I wasn’t even sure going in that I would recognize anyone.”
“Metro must be pleased. A positive identification indicates a high probability of conviction, especially since the driver has already confessed and implicated the others. A positive ID will corroborate his statement. What’s going to happen next?”
“I’m really not sure. The detective said that they would call.”
“I’m certain that those creeps will reap the rewards of their behavior”
“You know, it’s strange, Ron. I don’t really feel a desire for revenge, only for justice.”
“I’m truly glad to hear that, Jack. Revenge is an unhealthy reaction. In a civilized society there is no room for retribution. As a last resort people with harmful antisocial behavior, especially violent behavior, have to be removed from society to prevent their harming others. Changing the subject, have you heard from Lonnie? You guys seemed to have formed a real attachment.”
“He called when he arrived home, then he called again yesterday. I’m going to call him tonight. Yes, it seems strange to even say it again, but I think I’m in love.”
“I’m happy to hear that Jack. I presume that he feels the same way?”
“Yes, he told me last night that he knew that he was in love with me. It creates a terrible dilemma.”
“Oh? In what way?”
“I’d have thought it would be as obvious to you as it is to me,” Jack said in a surprised voice. “He lives in New York and I live here! I want to be with him so bad, but I wouldn’t dream of leaving your company and throwing away my career with you to move to New York. I’m really torn between the man I love and the job I love.”
“What if you didn’t have to make that choice?” Ron asked.
“I can’t imagine what you mean. He has a wonderful job now with the Friendship Trust in New York, and I have a wonderful job here. Neither one of us could ask the other to give up their dream job.”
“Well, it just so happens,” Ron said smiling, “that I have been thinking of opening an office of Turner Consulting in New York. I’ve also come to the conclusion that you would be just the man to run it. How does that strike you?”
“Wow, right between the eyes! I don’t know what to think!”
“Another thing,” Ron said, but this time with a serious demeanor, “I’m not sure that Lonnie is best suited to work at the Friendship Trust.”
Jack’s smile vanished. “Oh, he’ll be devastated! He’s so looking forward to getting back into his financial specialty. I don’t know what to say!”
“How ‘bout if you say, ‘Lonnie, how would you like to work with me at Turner Consulting’?”
A huge grin crossed Jack’s face. “Do you really mean it, Ron?”
“Jack,” Ron said with sincerity, “This is a business decision. You and Ted had the best one-two punch of anybody in the consulting business. You were the operations specialist and he was the financial. I know that Lonnie isn’t Ted, but I see the same qualities, the same quick mind, and the same attention to detail in Lonnie that I saw in Ted. We’re covered here in Las Vegas now with Jeff Davis and Phil Thompson. More and more of our business will be in the east where most of the big companies are located. We need an office back there and we need the two of you there to make it happen. What do you say?”
“I say, YES, YES, YES!!! Whoopee!” Oh man, I can’t believe it!” Jack whooped ecstatically.” I can’t wait to tell Lonnie!”
“Please use the phone in your own office,” Ron said with a deadpan expression on his face. Then he smiled and winked. “Congratulations to you both. You two deserve the best.”
“Oh Ron, you don’t know how happy you’ve made me!”
“Hey,” Ron said feigning anger, ”That’s supposed to be Matt’s line!”
Then Ron laughed at his own joke.
“Get out of here,” he said with a huge grin. “You’ve got a call to make to New York.”
Tony had spent a restless night thinking of all that had happened to himself and his family in the last few weeks. As he lay there thinking, he suddenly remembered Petey’s story about their escape. Upon awakening from his restless slumber he quickly dressed and went over to the big house to look for Tyler. Finding Parker first, he asked the older man if he had seen Ron’s brother. Parker answered that he had gone to the office with Ron and Matt, and that they expected to come back around noon. Tony spent an anxious morning with the other four boys awaiting Tyler’s return.
* * *
“Kin I see ya fer a minit?” Tony asked Tyler when he entered the house with Matt.
“Sure my friend. Lets go into Ron’s study,” Tyler offered.
Upon entering the room, Tyler said, “Let’s sit over there.” He indicated two comfortable looking chairs flanking a stone fireplace. Taking seats, Tyler asked. “ Now, what can I do for you?”
“Wayl, Petey sed sumpin’ ‘bout ya stoppin’ at Johnny’s place when ya was rescuin’ him, Georgey ‘n’ mom.”
“Damn!” Tyler said as he slapped his forehead with his hand. “I’m sure glad you asked. I completely forgot to tell you. Johnny’s going to be calling you this afternoon at two o’clock. I knew that you would want to talk to him.”
“Yipee! Tony said excitedly, “Yer th’ bes’ fren a guy cud want. Dangnation! Ya sher made muh day wunnerful!” He jumped from his chair and ran to Tyler giving him a big hug.
“Always happy to be of service,” Tyler said smiling at his happy young friend. “Always happy to be of service.”
* * * * *