The author reserves all copyright privileges. This work my not be reproduced, except for personal use, without the permission of the author, and may not be linked to any pay sites.
Dedication: This story is dedicated to my special friend, Ry, who provided the inspiration for this, my first effort, and to Don Hanratty, the author of Working It Out, a beautiful piece of work (Nifty, college section) who encouraged me to post it here.
If you would like to comment or have suggestions, you E-mail me at JETjt@aol.com. Thanks to those who have written. . Your comments are appreciated (blush) JET
RON AND BRYAN
The aircraft climbed into the New York night sky. Soon the ground disappeared as the plane entered the dense clouds which normally were present, but had been thankfully sparse for the past few days.
Ron settled back in his leather chair which cradled his tired body. The fatigue he felt was nothing compared to battle between the logic and emotion that coursed though his mind. The gorgeous sounds of Bach's Suite for Violin- number two, flowed through the chamber, as Ron debated the nobler conflicts that gripped his being. He wanted to believe that he was moral, yet at each opportunity, he had slipped from his resolve, obeying his baser instincts. His sexual episode with Lonny in the bathroom at Bryan's had proven that. Even though he had not instigated the encounter, he still felt guilty. Lonny had a boyfriend and he was a friends with Bryan, the epitome of fidelity! At least with the present evidence, comparing the two friends as equal in character , was beyond comprehension.
In some ways, being friends with Bryan was difficult. His young friend had such high standards for his own conduct, that it highlighted the moral defects in others. Yet Bryan was not judgmental He knew Bryan's life history, and Bryan had been there! It certainly gave at least one of his friends, the one who was now sitting in a jet streaking for Las Vegas, something to think about!
Where Bryan's high standards, bright attitude and forgiving nature came from Ron could not fathom. He had been raised in a family in Manhattan made up of his Mother, Father, older brother Dick, and of course Bryan. Bryan's dad, Richard Adams whowas a modestly successful middle manager for New York based, leasing firm, that had offices throughout the country. Bryan had a happy childhood, feeling devotion to both of his parents, even though his father was pretty 'hard line' about what was proper. Ryan had discovered that he was gay in his early teen years, which he revealed to his brother, with whom he shared a close kinship. Dick did not understand Bryan's attraction to guys, but once he was convinced that the condition was not just a passing fad of youth, he accepted Bryan for was he was, a wonderful youth and a great brother.
Having a cute face, an attractive body and a winning personality, Bryan had no trouble finding sex. He discretely had relations with many of his cuter friends and was well experienced by the time he was out of high school. Starting college, he was neither overly attentive nor particularly interested in academics. His grades were lackluster, as he had no special goals, nor did he have any real interest in creating friendships with his college classmates. His principal interest was hanging out on the streets of the City with a strange assortment of friends, most of them gay. It was there he met Alan, the attractive social worker in his early 30's with whow he loved to hang around, making a nuisance of himself. It wasn't that Alan didn't like or wasn't attracted to the cute guy, who was such a pest, he just had more important things to do. First, he NEVER mixed his business life with his personal life, particularly the almost non existant sexual part of his personal life. Second, Bryan was too young and immature. Third, Alan's business was helping young people in trouble on the streets. Ryan knew the streets, and he treated them like a playground. Bryan didn't need his help. Finally, Alan had his hands full, He was working, going to school earning his Masters Degree and he was running a household alone, with a teenage son from a previous marriage for frosting!
It was also on the streets, that Bryan later met Jon. They fell in love and Bryan was happy. He was so ecstatic he could hardly contain himself. He told his brother of his happiness. He told his friends, emphatically stating that he had no interest sexually, with anyone but Jon. He meant every word! Jon was cute and charming and they made an attractive couple. Bryan had introduced Jon to his parents, when they first began to hang out together as friends. Bryan's parents welcomed and liked Jon. When the young men fell in love, Bryan couldn't contain himself. He knew that his parents like Jon, and decided to break the news of his love for his partner, to his dad, who he admired, loved and trusted.. Jon was hesitant, but agreed to wait outside when Bryan went in to tell his dad about his great news. Immediately grasping the clear implications of his son's revelation, His father Richard, flew into a rage! He cursed and screamed, calling him vile, hurting names. Still shouting at the shocked youth, he ordered him out of the house, disavowing his fatherhood, and exiling him forever, from any contact with the family. Bryan gathered his few things, sticking them in a small knapsack.
Tears filled his eyes as opened the door to leave for the last time, the home of his childhood. Thoroughly broken and filled with grief, he felt the height of rejection, "My dad has thrown me away!" The realization was crushing.... As he decended the steps, he saw his lover Jon. As Jon reached for him in acceptance, a small smile broke through the thunderstorm of pain, and he brightend, with new hope, "Yes I'm throw away. Away to live on the streets of the City with Jon, my love."
Ron knew the continuation of Bryan's story , and of how he and Jon had loved and survived, but his thoughts wandered back to the Bryan that he knew, the Bryan of today.
Ron had concluded that it was the love shown in his younger friend's wonderful approach to life, that made him so desirable. It was not that Bryan's devotion to his mate made him unapproachable, at least on a basis of friendship. Bryan was his own man, and his arms were open wide. Hugs were his stock in trade, but hugs below the belt were strictly forbidden. Bryan had a line for propriety, and nobody was allowed to step across it. For those unwise enough to attempt it, even on the Internet, the shock of the previously accepting guy turning ununmistakably hostile, was an experience that no one wanted repeated. Ron had been there. He knew the feeling. He had skated over that line, once or twice when first chatting with Bryan and had felt the heat. Yet out of the experience, came an admiration for the man. A man who knew his own mind. A man who guarded the fortress that he and Alan had built together.
Ron knew that he had to find that kind of relationship. Would it be with Lonny? He doubted it. Lonny's easy seduction of Ron, was a good, but not conclusive indicator. Ron knew better than to pass judgment. He, himself, was no model of propriety, especially in matters of sexual encounters. Perhaps Matt would be the one. Ron visualized the young man in whose company, he had spent such pleasant hours. "Now there's a better possibility," he thought. Matt was warm and loving, unasking of what was not offered, and grateful for what was. The young man himself was a gift. "A gift.......?" Ron now remembered the gift given in their last moments before parting. He unfastened his seat belt, which he had left on, unmindful of its' presence since take off. Opening the small cubby that contained his carry on items, he quickly found the small red box. Pulling off the matching ribbon, he opened the lid and exposed the contents. Inside was a small bronze replica of the restaurant on Martha's Vineyard, where they had spent such an enchanted evening. The feelings that he had felt toward his companion that evening came flooding back, and his eyes moisten, a bit. "What a sweet guy!" Yes, you couldn't rule Matt out of the picture, for sure!
Ron dimmed the overhead light and tilted his chair to it's most horizontal position. Listening to the, now soft, contrapuntal weaving of Bach's music caressing his conscious mind, and holding the small comforting model reminding him of the recent, cherished time, he drifted off to sleep.
* * * *
It was noon when Ron's Mercedes pulled into his reserved basement parking spot at the office. The building housing the executive operations of his companies and Trusts was not particularly large, just over 30,000 square feet in two stories, but it was impressive. Most of the parking was underground, with the surface parking reserved for visitors in two small lots recessed below entry grade. Most of the grounds were covered in desert landscaping , except for the entries and building corners, which were green with lush foliage, accenting the desert stone which made up the exterior walls. The building was reminiscent of Frank Lloyd Wright's prairie style, but clad in stone rather than the brick of the midwestern versions. The high ceilinged lobby floor was paved with light sandstone, picking up the colors pouring through the clear and stained glass windows. The offices had floors of rust colored carpet with sand colored borders and base. Walls were white except where soft redwood paneling and trim was used by the talented decorators to provide a feeling of warmth and texture.
Ron's office and that of his private secretary were the lone exceptions. Ron's desk and conference table areas floors were covered in sand colored travertine marble, along with the borders and base of the room. The balance of the office space, including the lounge area which reminded one of a comfortable living room, was carpeted in the same rich, rust colored floor covering found elsewhere. The walls were covered in solid African Rosewood panels set in a pattern reflecting the wrightian effect that was the character of the building. The furniture through the building was custom made and though it matched the decor of the structure surrounding, was ergonomically correct, rather the the beautiful, but back- breaking furniture that Wright's clients suffered with, only because of the the pieces' artistic appeal. The building's overall effect was one of shear beauty and richness.
Ron greeted staff members by name as he passed on the way to his office, taking time to recognize them and either asking about their families, or complementing their attire, or showing interest in their work or charity projects. These small remembrances and courtesies, he knew, made for a happy work environment. Ron's staff was known for their hard work, and devotion to their jobs. Turnover was practically nonexistent.
He entered his outer office, and greeted his long-time secretary. "Hi, Margaret," he said with a smile.
"Welcome back Ron," she said, looking up from her work. "Did you have a nice trip?"
"Unbelievable! I had a great time, and can't wait to go back. The guys I met were fantastic! We had too few days together."
Margaret was one of a handful of employees who knew, or at least let on that they knew, that he was gay. She treated the whole subject very casually as if it were something as simple as liking one color of socks. They never discussed any intimate details of his private life, although she knew far more than she would ever admit. He knew that she knew too. He respected her candor and how adroitly she handled any situation that his sexual 'preference' might cast at the office. She, in turn, respected Ron's private life, and she knew that while he refused to hide his sexual leanings, he was careful not to run up the rainbow flag at the office, flaunting that portion of his character. He always made everyone comfortable in his presence.
"Are we set up for our 12:30 lunch?" he asked, feeling foolish because he already knew the answer. When he asked Margaret to do something, it was done!
"Will and Jan will join you in your office. Everything is set out and ready. Mr.Peterson will be here at 3:00 for the meeting you requested on your Trust and Charity accounts. On your desk you will find your usual list of appointments and priorities. Also your phone messages, including notations on the ones I took care of, at your instruction. There is also a compiled list of your investment current standings and, of course, the weekly business summaries of your five operating companies and RET Holdings. There is a fresh pot of coffee at the bar, and soft drinks drinks and fresh iced tea are in the small refrigerator, for your lunch meeting. What else may I help you with?"
Ron laughed. "Not a thing, my right arm, not at thing. You've taken care of everything ....as usual."
Giving the lady who cared so much for him a wink, he stepped into his office and closed the door quietly.
At 12:30 promptly, Margaret announced that Will and Jan were arriving. Ron walked to the door. He greeted his trusted friends and welcomed them into his office. They milled around momentarily getting their drinks, fixing sandwiches and loading their plates, before settling down around the conference table. They exchanged pleasantries, chatting as old friends do, as the light lunch was consumed and enjoyed by the tight trio.
Ron looked at these, his business friends, and yet personal friends too.
Will Nugent was the Executive Vice President of Ron's holding company, RET Holdings, Inc., under which all the businesses were centered. He had been with Ron's father, before his death, and was instrumental in overseeing the day to day business of the Company. Although he was older than Ron, at 45, he treated his boss with respect, due to the younger mans genius in business, not just because he owned the firm. Not that Will was any lightweight. He had more than impressive credentials, and received offers regularly to leave RET and head up other companies, some substantially larger than the one where he currently made his growing fortune. He turned them all down! He loved his job, and he loved the freedom to be creative in dealing with business challenges. Will could depend on Ron to listen attentively to his ideas, and this boss and friend, would often approve changes that Will wanted to make in the Company, even if Ron might not agree entirely. Ron knew that Will would make an extra effort for the successful execution of those ideas, because he, himself, had promoted them. He was not afraid of failure if an idea didn't 'pan out', nor was he afraid to admit he was wrong. Both of those marks of character were shared by the two friends. Ron and Will were risk takers, and good at it. They also knew how to cut their losses if it came to that. They were an excellent match.
Jan Bounett, on the other hand, was Ron's top-notch Office Manager. She and her small staff made sure that the other executives and workers had the resources to do their primary jobs so that the operations staff could operate at maximum efficiency. She worked as a partner to both Ron and Will, overseeing most of the administrative things, that were, unfortunately, necessary to operate a successful Company. Those people who worked to keep the mechanics of the firm in tip top shape, reported to her. The Personnel function, Accounting, Legal, Vehicles and Aircraft were all under her wing. She was only 30, but displayed the vigor of one of 10 years her junior, and the wisdom of someone 20 years her senior. She was devoted and loyal, and would scrap with anyone, including the men eating lunch with her, if they created organizational chaos, on her turf.
She loved both of these men she worked with and they returned the affection.
The small group concluded their lunch. After clearing the table, Will pulled out some notes and started their briefing. "RET Development is doing well. The casino project and two shopping centers are under budget and on time. Our other smaller projects are doing well too, but we need to keep an eye on the future to make sure that we have sufficient work. Turner Construction Equipment and Supplies, is O.K. too. The expanded beltway project has kept the company hopping and the boom in Las Vegas shows no sign of slowing. Slots and Gaming Manufacturing is doing well, but we need to expand our replacement equipment sales efforts, especially outside of Nevada, since there will ultimately be a limit to the huge orders, that new casinos bring. For now, our profits are outstanding! Turner Gypsum Products is struggling. Our orders exceed our ability to produce and deliver. We need to spend some time with George, the President of that company to quickly decide on a strategy for now and the future. Finally, Turner Consulting has been awarded 3 contracts which may make next year stellar! This year ain't gonna be no turnip, either. That one, the smallest our companies, with just 53 people, will probably net over $12 million this year. Our biggest expense, except for salaries, of course, are airplane tickets! The third quarter will end in a few days, and I believe that you will be pleased with the results. Now, for our non-RET operation, Turner Investments. As I'm sure you noted on your briefing sheet today, T.I. has $673 Million in invested capital, returning an average of 23% and $143 million in cash. We need to put that cash to work, since it is our lowest return, just slightly under 5%. That is all I have for today, unless you have any questions, or suggestions," Will concluded.
"Good report, Will. Set up the meeting with George. He needs help. We need to put our cash to work too. Put the "think tank" boys on it and put together some options. No decision will be made until we've talked to George first. Our present operations, get first crack at capital, if they can produce the returns. Now, Jan what about you?"
"The office, in general, is humming. The glitches we were having with our Main Frame have been solved, and our communication between offices has never been better. Our vehicle fleet is fine for the moment, but I was wondering about what Will said about airplane tickets. I think we need to look at the possibility of expanding our aircraft operation, if it can be proven to be cost effective. That's about it."
"Good idea, Jan!. Ron get the think tank boys to get in touch with Jan's operation's people, to start an analysis. Jan, I'd like you to personally monitor the study, and come up with your recommendations. Thanks, guys!"
Excusing themselves the two executives, left Ron's office, and Ron began reviewing the backlog of work on his desk.
* * * *
At 3:00, Mr. Peterson was announced. Ron thought it strange that the older man was so formal. The man was the only one of his close advisors that refused to call him Ron.
Likewise, he expected to be called by his surname, and everyone in the office used the more formal name, rather than face the glare and reminder that was sure to come.. Mr. Peterson's small staff always addressed him with the respect he demanded, and, quite frankly, deserved.
Although Ron himself handled the investments and income side of his charity and family trusts, Mr. Peterson oversaw the "giving" side. He researched and studied the charities and institutions that wished to be the beneficiaries of Ron's financial success, looking for ones that operated efficiently and were effective. Some of the institutions were national or international, and some were local branches of those bigger organizations. There were a few that were local in nature, and Mr. Peterson judged them equally.
The Family Trust side of the operation was much easier for the man. His principal duty was to dispense quarterly checks to somewhat distant family members and a few close friends, that Ron wanted to help. In exchange for the income provided through the Trust, the recipients of the trust had to sign an agreement that they waived any claim to Ron's fortune in the event of his death. They would only receive their principal portion of the Trust in proportion to their income. While the amounts in question would assure them comfort for all of their lives, it would not take them into to the super-rich category. Any challenge to Ron's will would automatically suspend all payments of any challenger, and , according to his codicil, would remove them from the list of beneficiaries. Ron detested family fights between heirs over money that they hadn't earned. Ron made certain that his personal attorney knew that such attempts were to be resisted with a vengeance!
Mr. Peterson, pulled out a sheaf of paper and gave his report. The assets of the Trusts were now $123 million, and the Charity investments at $465 million. There was also a much smaller fund of less than $30 million for non tax exempt giving which Ron used for private giving to organizations, such as his college fraternity, that he felt worthwhile. The earnings of the different funds were slightly over 20%, with 5% reserved for growth. Ron did not consider the assets of these trusts a part of his net worth, but rather a legacy started by his father, for which, up to now, he had only passing interest. That had changed since his trip to New York.
The trusted man quickly summarized his report providing information about the organizations which were the recipients of the Trust's largess, and disbursements that were made to each. The report was absorbed by Ron with a new interest. Ron then had an uncommonly long discussion with Mr. Peterson about some ideas he had for the expanded use of the funds. Ron told Mr. Peterson about his plans for New York and his hopes that Alan would head up that effort. From the body language that Ron was skilled at recognizing, it was evident that his manager felt a renewed enthusiasm for his work, with the challenges that Ron had proposed. He made it clear that he was very pleased at Ron's heightened interest in the activities of his organization.
The discussion concluded, and Mr. Peterson left with an unaccustomed grin on his face.
* * * *
Ron arrived home about 6:30, changed into some sweats and a golf shirt, and made his way to the kitchen. His dinner had be prepared, and was ready to warm up in the micro wave. Following the directions left on a piece of paper, he set the timer and put the items found on the plate in the refrigerator inside the oven, and pushed the button. He then again opened the refrigerator, removing butter, milk and, his favorite, butterscotch pudding.
Having just place the items on the table and pouring a glass of milk, the bell went off at the microwave. Removing the plate, he sat at the kitchen table and ate his dinner.
Five minutes after he had cleaned up from his meal, Ron found himself in his den reading the paper, when the telephone rang. He answered, giving his name.
"Hello Ron, this is Alan. How was your trip home?
"It was O.K. I guess, I'm kind of tired out though, I didn't get a good night's sleep, and I'm kinda out of kilter, time wise. Think I'll knock off early tonight. ---- I hope you are calling with good news!"
"Well, yes, Bry and I discussed your fabulous offer, and I have decided to accept."
"Hot Damn! You've made my day! Welcome aboard my friend! How much time do you need before you can start?"
"I gave my 30 day notice today, but my boss, after I told her of your plans, said I could leave earlier if I you wanted. She knows that we can make a difference here."
"That's great. We need to get together though, and soon. Why don't you see if you can get off this weekend and come to Las Vegas. I know that gambling doesn't have much of an allure to you, but we need to have some time to make preliminary plans, and we could take in a show or something, while you're here. Bring Bryan and the boys too, if they can make it. You are invited to stay at my house too, unless you would rather stay in a hotel. I have 6 unused bedrooms, and a guest house, so it would be no inconvenience. If I'm reading the younger boys correctly, only two of those spare bedrooms are gonna get used.!
"I'm pretty sure that I can get off. I'll have to check with Bryan and the boys. Maybe we could get away on Friday, after Bry gets back from his early class. I'll call you tomorrow and let you know what our schedule is."
"That would be good," you can call me at the office if you'd like. By the way, If more than one of you can come, I'll send the plane. Otherwise I'll have a first class ticket waiting for you at the ticket counter. "
"Sounds like a plan, and again thanks for the this opportunity!"
"Hey, I make no mistakes in judgment when I pick people. I am an unerring judge of character," Ron said seriously, then suddenly laughing, he continued, "and your partner sure is one! Ha!--- oops, Sorry, I dropped my joke book!"
"Always the clown! This new adventure is gonna be fun! O.K. I call you tomorrow. Good night until then."
"Goodnight, Alan, and thanks."
Ron hung up the phone and smiled. He looked forward to the months ahead and the good things that might be accomplished.
"Damn, I didn't even say hi to Bryan!" he muttered, "I must be losing it!" He thought of his sweet young friend as he reached over to his universal remote, and turned on some music. The sweet melody of an old Nat King Cole song filled the room, and Ron listened with melancholy to the words and Bryan's image appeared as a mystic cloud in his mind:
There was a boy,
a very strange enchanted boy,
and though he wandered very far,
very far, over land and sea,
a little shy and sad of eye,
but very wise was he.
and then one day,
one magic day he passed my way,
And as he spoke of many things,
Fools and Kings,
This he said to me....
The greatest thing,
you'll ever learn,
is just to love,
and be loved in return.
Hoped you enjoyed this chapter. Thanks for reading. JET Let me know if you like my story.