The story below is fiction. It may contain erotic or sexually explicit behavior between males. If you find this offensive or are too young, please exit now.

The author reserves copyright privileges. The work may not be reproduced, except for personal use without the permission of the author.

Dedication: To Cody, a good friend, dynamic writer and real inspiration.

If you’d like to comment or write my address is  John Tucker


Chapter Eleven

Jason came home from the hospital on Sunday at noon. Ron, Matt, Tyler and Darryl had made the trip in the Escalade, returning to a beautiful, but casual lunch that Mary had prepared. Pete and Cody, along with Sterling were waiting at the garage door as well as Jeffery, and Tony, who had come up for the mini-celebration.  Burgers, hot dogs, brats and corn-on-the-cob were crackling on the grill as the expedition returned and moved out on the pool deck. On the table were homemade potato salad, chips, veggies and a large German chocolate cake. After a quick stop to wash up, the group gathered round before filling their plates. Ron spoke up.

“Before we start to eat, I’d like to welcome Jason back.” Then looking at the youngster he continued, “Everyone here is pleased that you’re back and will soon be well. Would you like to say anything before we ask God’s blessing on our meal?”

Jason struggled to his feet, balancing precariously on his new crutches. “Yeah, thanks Mr. Ron. First, I’d like to thank you all for all you’ve done for me and for Darryl. You’ve given us a place to stay, food, clothing, but most of all your friendship. It’s more than anybody ever did for us. Next, I wanna thank Tony and Pete for savin’ my life. I know that you’ll say you didn’t do nothin’, but I know better. If Tony hadn’t been smart enough to get that rope down to me and tie the other end to a tree, I’d be a smashed bug on the floor of that cave; and if Tony hadn’t handled that horse and backed Pete up, I’d be down there too. I don’t know how I can thank you enough. Also I’d like to give my thanks to all of you that were on the mountain; everybody did something to help. Last, I gotta thank Ron, Matt and Tyler who look out for us all. I never thought I’d meet grownups that I could respect and love like I do you. I guess that’s all.”  He said.

Ron looked at Matt and Tyler smiling. “Well said, Jason. Thank you for being part of all our lives. Know that we love you.  Now if you’d all bow your heads, I’d like to thank the Lord for our blessings.”

            *        *        *

Matt, Ron and Tyler climbed the rocky outcropping. The view from this spot was as breathtaking as from Ron and Matt’s balcony overlooking the valley below.  

“I brought Dan over here last weekend in the jeep,” Tyler remarked. We loved this spot
It would make a great place for a house. The valley is spread out to the east, and to the north I can see your house in the distance.”

“I think it is an ideal spot too,” Ron agreed. “Matt  & I were here on horseback after we purchased the land. Have you decided on what kind of house you would like to build?”

“I love your house, guys. I’d kinda like one similar. I like the Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie style of the office, and I love the Falling Waters style of your house but I’m leaning a bit more toward the Taliesin West style that is more associated with the desert. I was thinking of something similar to the size of your place, but with some different amenities, so we’d have a good excuse to visit back and forth. How do I go about getting it built?”

“I’d suggest that we ask the Taliesin West School to do the basic design. That’s all they can do, since they’re not registered to practice architecture in Nevada. We use an architect here who could turn the basic scheme into working drawings. Currently he’s putting the finishing touches on the drawings for our new office building, but should be ready to start on your place by the time we can get a basic design back. Turner Construction, of course will build it, just like we built the office building and Matt’s and my place.”

“That sounds great, Ron. I’m ready when you are.”

“When are you going to relocate the main office of Aztec/Turner Security to Las Vegas?” Matt asked.

“I believe I’ll be ready at the end of week-after-next,” Tyler replied. “I have a small crew that wish to relocate, and I’m going to name a successor to run the Los Angeles office next week. I need to spend time here to build up our business and even more, I need to spend time on making a smooth transition of our new acquisition. Will you have room for me at the office Ron?”

“Not quite yet, Tyler. We’re bursting at the seams ourselves. I have been negotiating to lease some space in a nearby office building though. I thought I’d put Turner Construction there, until after the new building is built.  Our plans are for them to be located in the new building anyway.  They have about 5000 square feet in our present building, so if I can complete the lease for already improved space for them this week, I think I can be ready in two weeks for your arrival.”

“That sounds great, Ron. No big hurry though, I can delay my departure from L.A. a week or two, or even more, if that will help.”

“I appreciate the offer, little brother, but I’d like you here as soon as you can get here. Let’s see what the week brings, then we can decide for sure. I’m certain it will be a bit chaotic for a while, but our Turner Construction guys can work miracles. I have a suggestion. Next weekend, why don’t we all go to Scottsdale on Friday and meet with the Taliesin guys, then we can spend the night at a nice resort there, maybe catch some rays and play a little golf. You know the invitation includes Dan,” Ron concluded with a wink.

“I like that idea,” but I think I’d like to come back here on Sunday, so I can see the office space, and get some ideas of how we can fit.”

“That’s a great idea, Tyler. Maybe you could move here in two weeks, and your staff a week or two later, or could come in stages to help you get ready for those that will follow. I’m sure that a fair amount of time will be taken just getting situated, but you need to bring a couple of people early who can carry the move-in ball, in case you get tied up on business matters.”

“That could work,” Tyler agreed. “I’ll be honest, I haven’t thought too much about the logistics of the move yet, so I guess I have my work cut out for me. Oh, I almost forgot!”

Matt and Ron looked at each other, then at Tyler.  

“Aztec has a small three man office in San Diego. I went down there last week one day. There was another reason besides meeting with them that I went too. I know it sounds kinda crazy right now, what with us building a house for me here, but Jason Parry, the former owner of Aztec has a condo on Coronado Island that he is selling. It’s very elegant. I hate to say this, but I’m not looking forward to the hot summers in Las Vegas. It would be a great get-away place. The weather there is the nicest in the country.”

“How much are they asking?” Ron inquired.

“Two million five,” answered Tyler. “It’s a penthouse unit, with three bedrooms and its own pool.”

“You can certainly afford it,” said Ron. “I agree, San Diego’s a great get-away place.”

“Well…” Tyler stammered, “I was wondering if you and Matt might like a piece of it?”

“What do you have in mind?” Ron asked.

“Well, I was thinking a 50-50 deal,” Tyler answered.

“It sounds good to me, except I never do 50-50 deal with friends.  We’ll take a look at it, and if Matt likes it and I like it, we’ll take 49% and you take 51%. That way if we annoy you and you want us out, you control the ownership.”

“That would never happen, Ron.” Tyler said. “What’s wrong with 50-50 deals?”

“Lots of friendships have been destroyed by 50-50 partnerships that didn’t work out. It’s very likely that we would never disagree on anything regarding the condo, but this way it doesn’t matter. You call the shots. I’d rather have you as a brother and a friend than to ever be staring you in the face over a 50-50 deal in case of a disagreement.”

“Ok by me,” Tyler said in understanding. “When can we go look at it?”

“If we fly into Scottsdale on Friday afternoon and meet with the Taliesin boys then, and stay the night in Scottsdale, we could play golf the next morning, then we could fly to San Diego in the afternoon, and be home in Las Vegas after dinner,” Ron replied. That way we could be here all day Sunday. “Is that ok with the both of you?”

“Sure Babe,” Matt said smiling. “I like the idea. Dan could fly directly to LA and we could pick them both up and fly to Scottsdale. That way Dan could get a look at it too,” he said looking at Tyler, who was beginning to blush.

Ron laughed as he saw his brother turn pink.

“Hey bro,” he said grinning. “We like Dan very much. Of course, if the trip with him there would make things awkward, we can do it any way you want.”

“No that’s great!” Tyler exclaimed regaining his composure. “I guess it’s not too big a secret that Dan and I are in love and committed.”

“Congratulations,” Ron and Matt said simultaneously, as they moved in on Tyler for a group hug.

“When did this happen?” asked Ron.

“When he was here last weekend,” Tyler answered. “We haven’t announced it yet, cause we haven’t decided what to do about his move here and his job with Construction Leasing, which he loves.”

“Has he talked to Richard Adams yet?” Matt asked.

“No, but I’m sure after his trip out here next weekend he will.”

“It will be great to have another brother,” Ron said smiling. “Matt and I wish you all the best.”

“For sure!” Matt said hugging Ron’s brother again. “Wow!” this calls for a celebration.”

Tyler grinned and said, “It’s gonna have to wait ‘til next weekend, Matt. I’ve got to get back to L.A., so I planned to leave tonight, right after dinner.”

“Ok Babe. Next weekend it is! I’m looking forward to it already,” Matt said beaming.

            *        *        *

Tom Clark dusted off his coveralls.  He loved his job at McCarran airport. He loved the planes and the excitement of people coming and going to and from distant places. Now, he was even more delighted as he rode in a McCarran service vehicle past the hangar next to the Executive Terminal and spotted two jet aircraft with the Turner logo emblazoned on their tails. He thought of the small bomb that he’d constructed, knowing that it was perfect for bringing down an executive jet.

            *        *        *

“Yes Margaret?” Ron said picking up his phone.

“Matt’s on line one,” she answered.

“Thanks,” he replied then pushed the button for line one. “Hi ya Babe, how are things going today at Thornton?”

“Good,” Matt responded. “Tom and Shirley Anderson have finished their move into the Thornton house, and Don and Pam Brown are moving in tomorrow, Tuesday, to the Turner House. I also got a call from Anna Rice, the Director at the homeless shelter. They are still overcrowded, and now have 7 boys to place with us. With Jason, Darryl, Sterling and Cody, that makes 11 boys. Leonard talked to Don and Pam and they think they could be ready on Thursday morning to take boys into the Turner house. It’s a good thing too. With 11 boys, the two finished houses will be nearly full.”

“How’s the Jack Smith house coming?” Ron asked.

“Terry said it will be finished this Friday. Next week Harry and Linda Garrison will be moving in. It looks like it will happen just in the nick of time.”

“Great! Have you talked to Dorothy about how preparations are coming along for our ‘get acquainted party’ Wednesday night at the house?”

“Yep. She and Mary have been hard at it. Mabel is helping too. The thing is going to start at 4 in the afternoon. Our boys working here will be all finished for the day since Terry is letting them off at 3, so they will have time to get ready before the boys from the homeless shelter arrive. Parker will have plenty of bathing suits available for the boys if they want to swim or use the hot tub.  Dinner will be on the pool deck and we’re going to have a big table set-up like we had at New Years. The house parents will be there around 4 when the party begins, and the other staffers will arrive around 5. I still wonder at your sanity in having a ‘sleep-over’ for the boys.”

“Well, the next day they’ll be moving into the Thornton Center. I think it will be easier to do it from our house. It will give them all a chance to get acquainted, and give the house parents a chance to see them all together and alter the arrangements if you and they deem it necessary. Have you decided how the age groups in the houses will be split?”

“Based on the ages of the boys in our initial group,” Matt explained, “the boys under 16 will be in the Thornton House and the oldest ones will be in the Turner House.  When we open the Jack Smith house, we’ll probably make that house for 15 year olds moved from the Thornton House and 16 year olds from Turner. When the next three houses are built we may make further adjustments, but we hope to keep them on that same dividing line, if we can, to avoid having to move the boys around again.”

“It sounds like a good plan, Matt. Thanks for the update. I think that when Leonard Johnson and the staff are here, we need to talk about the three phase two houses. I’ll meet with Mr. Peterson and check the status of the Thornton Trust. I’m sure you didn’t call just to get me up to speed development. Are there any particular problems that I can help with?”

“Well, I need to bounce something off of you,” Matt admitted. “It’s the real reason I called.”

“Sure Babe,” Ron replied. “Shoot.”

“Cody came to see me today and said he wants to stay with Pete. I told him that it wasn’t possible. Pete is too young for the responsibility, and, just between us, I think their age difference is too great for any hope of a long-term relationship. He was disappointed when I told him no, and even more disappointed when I told him that he couldn’t spend Wednesday night with Pete. I invited them both up to the house tonight. I think we need to talk more with them.”

“That’s fine with me babe. It’s your show, but you know I’m there to support you in whatever you decide.”

“Thanks Ron. You don’t know how much I appreciate your backing. I’m nervous as a cat, right now. It’s hard knowing that I’m going to be responsible for the lives of these young guys.”

“You know I’m here for you, Cute Guy. Cody is going to be a problem, for sure. He’s a great kid, but he’s still a kid. I’ll grant you he’s big for his age and has had to face the world too early making him more mature than most kids his age, but I agree that the 6 years difference in his and Pete’s ages will continue to be an obstacle. At our ages 6 years begins to be insignificant, but when you’re a teen 6 years is a lot of years. I know they might not feel that way this minute, and I’m not suggesting that we try to break them up since that would build resentment. I think once they get resettled in their changed environment, whatever happens, happens. My guess is that they will split up, by themselves. It may take a while, but I think it will happen. If their relationship survives, then I say ‘more power to ‘em’. My guess is that Cody is gonna find somebody more near his age, like Sterling or one of the guys from the shelter.”

“We’re on the same wavelength, Ron, but I don’t think it will be Sterling if Tony has his way. Did you see those two over the weekend?”

“Yes, I saw a lot of exchanged ‘looks’. Don’t know if it’s gone further than that though.”

“Time will tell on that one. With Tony living at home and Sterling at Thornton there may not be too much opportunity. Of course, if we start Phase 2 real soon, it may be a different story. Well I’m sure we both have plenty to do, so I’ll say ‘bye ‘til tonight. See ya at home.”

“K, Babe. Love you.”

“I love you too, Sweet man.”

            *        *        *

Gary Franklin was working on the FBI computer when the Suspicious Materials report was delivered to his office. The 80-page printout was dropped on his desk by a very cute ‘Junior G-man’, as the older agents called the newest recruits. ‘Wish I could give him a secret signal, or something,’ Gary thought wistfully. Being gay in the Bureau was definitely a ‘no-no’, but in the seven years in the agency he had run into a few others of the same sexual leanings. The fact that there was the utmost discretion was a given. Only twice had the revelation resulted in  “action” and each time it made both men so nervous, that both occasions were ‘one timers’ and had not even resulted in ongoing friendships. ‘Enough daydreaming,’ Gary mentally concluded picking up the heavy stack of documents and placing it on his desk.

Two hours later he stopped for coffee. His review of the nitrate purchases was completed and he was ready to work on the much smaller high-powered explosive section. His frustration with the review of the nitrates was evident. The low powered explosives were commonly available and utilized in the manufacture of chemical fertilizers. A 15-year-old kid could by enough nitrates to blow up a small building over a relatively short period of time without suspicion, meaning that tracking the purchases was almost a waste of time.  The Oklahoma bombing had taken a rental van full of the stuff to wreak havoc that had killed the victims.

Returning to his desk with coffee in-hand, he settled down, forcing himself to be mentally alert as he began to pour over the pages of items, looking for something unusual. Each item carried the purchase date, seller, purchaser, type of explosive, licenses held, and other pertinent information. With a pink hi-liter, he marked any entry that sparked an interest. Finishing his initial review without really discovering anything very suspicious he turned to his computer. By this time the data would be available on the local area network and could be manipulated.  He entered a search for purchasers in both categories in the Nevada and surrounding states, Arizona, California, Idaho and Utah, instructing the computer to accent those transactions that occurred in Nevada. He quickly scanned the list that was still huge, as there were many interests in both agriculture and mining that used the materials. He ordered a printout of the new material, and then started over. He decided to skip the nitrates and ordered a search for high explosive purchases in Nevada of less than 5 pounds over the preceding 6-month period. The list was less than a page in length. He saved the data, and did a search for nitrates under 2 tons in Nevada over the same period. This list was also relatively small since the biggest user of nitrates, agriculture, was a relatively small segment of the large state, principally covered with desert. After saving the results, he requested that a match search be done for anyone appearing on both lists. The list had only 5 transactions.  He ordered a printout, then noticed the clock. Grabbing his coat from a nearby hook he turned and headed down the hall. It was lunchtime.

Returning to his desk, he found a note from his section leader to see him ASAP upon his return to the office. He picked up the printouts from the morning work, stuck them on top of the larger printout from the morning, and leaving his coat on, picked up a note pad and went to see his section chief. At 2 o’clock, he returned with a new job assignment that had been described as ‘urgent’. Clearing his desk, he wrapped a large rubber band around the reports and placed them on top of a filing cabinet for later review.

        *        *        *

When Ron returned to the house at 4 o’clock on Wednesday, he saw a van parked in front.  He turned the Mercedes sedan to climb the hill on the side drive to his large garage. Entering the house, he heard voices coming from the direction of the family room. Stepping into the room, he recognized Beverly Comstock, the Deputy Director of the youth homeless shelter talking to Matt.

Approaching the couple, Ron heard Beverly say, “You guys are life-savers!  We’re just about out of floor space to sleep the kids, not to mention bed space.”

Matt, about to reply, saw Ron approaching and smiled at his lover.

“Hi Ron,” Matt said in greeting. “You remember Beverly from the youth shelter?”

“Of course. Hi Bev, it’s good to see you again. I see you brought us some new brothers!”

“Good to see you again too, Ron. I was just telling Matt how much we’ve looked forward to the opening of the Thornton Center.  We’ve had a couple of unfortunate incidents between some of the straight and gay youths in our overcrowded facility, so we’re happy that there is now an alternative. Leonard, Matt and two of the house parents came over this afternoon, and briefed us on the operation of the Thornton Center so that we would be fully informed about giving a choice to the boys at our facility who are gay.”

“We’re pleased to be able to offer the facility, Beverly. I’m curious though. How do you tell if a young guy is gay?”

“It’s easy …sort of. With each new admission to the shelter, we have them fill out an application and do an entrance interview. We ask their sexual ‘preference’ on the application, which of course is often left blank or filled in fictitiously by those gay boys who wish to remain closeted. In the interview, we stress that we are unbiased in terms of race, religion, age or sexual preference. We also state that we are tolerant of political persuasion, which usually gets a laugh, or at least a smile.  We tell them that the application is held in the strictest confidence, and as we scan the form, we ask them about any blanks that are not filled in, reminding them that acceptance is not based on the information. Often additional information is offered, but not always. We state that we are intolerant of alcohol, drugs, or violence within the facility, and the only way to be immediately evicted is to introduce those items into the shelter. For those who state that they are gay, we now can offer them a small pocket sized pamphlet from Thornton, explaining the program there.  That’s how we got the group that’s now munching up your snacks on the pool deck. Each of the boys who are here has been interviewed by someone from Thornton to fully answer any questions they have, and to fill out the initial application to be a resident there. The limit for a stay at our shelter is two weeks. We have a couple of boys here who, after hearing about Thornton, ‘outed’ themselves after, being admitted in order to take advantage of the facility.”  Of course there is no guarantee that any of the boys we brought is gay. We take them at what they tell us they are.”

“It sounds like quite a process, Beverly,” Ron said. “I just thought that the shelter was mostly a “drop-in” kind of place.”

“It is that too, Ron. But one of our goals, besides providing temporary rest and shelter to youth, is to encourage them to go back home, or at least go somewhere it’s safe for them to finish their growing up. In some cases we can get them admitted to Boy’s Ranch or some other more permanent type of environment, but often they resist, preferring to take their chances by moving on. I must say, Ron and Matt, that the Turner Trust has been very generous in helping with our financial needs. Mr. Peterson is a real gem. On more than one occasion, your fund has saved us from shutting our doors.”

“It sounds like there is more to be done,” Matt commented. “Ron, could we get the whiz kids to visit the shelter? It sounds like an evaluation of their needs and operations are in order.”

“My thoughts exactly, love.” Ron responded smiling. “Bev, you can see why Matt and I are a matched pair. Our thoughts run along the same lines.”

Matt blushed slightly, and Ron said in a loud ‘stage whisper’, “Not that, silly.”

Beverly let out a huge laugh, while Matt’s face turned scarlet.

“I’ll get you for that,” Matt said, grinning.

“I can’t wait,” Ron responded with a leer.

“Oh Ron, leave the poor guy alone! He’s a sweetie!” Beverly said with a final chuckle. “I think it’s now time for the boys to come in for introductions. Then they are free for whatever you have planned for them.”

“Matt, would you invite the boys into the music room?” Ron asked. Then turning to Beverly he continued, “ It’s the only place, where we can set up enough chairs in one place for a group of this size.

“I’m sure it will be fine,” Beverly said agreeably.

As she spoke, the balance of the staff from Thornton arrived with the exception of the house parents Harry and Linda Garrison who were in the process of moving. Leonard Johnson, the Director, and his wife Marsha led that group into the living room. The special guests had also arrived en masse.  First was Mr. Peterson from the Turner and Thornton Trusts, Mabel Hendricks from ‘Mabel’s Moppers’, and Ken Friday, of Friday’s Tire Stores.

Ron led Beverly into the living room where the adult guests were gathered and, acting as their host, requested that the new guests adjourn to the music room. He asked that they be seated on the right side of the room in the rows of chairs provided. They were no sooner in place than Matt led the boys into the room and seated them on the left. Three seats on the right side in the front row next to Leonard and Marsha Johnson were reserved for Ron and Matt, who quickly occupied them. One seat was left vacant. In front on a small platform was a small lectern. Once everyone was seated Leonard Johnson rose and took the podium.

“On behalf of the Thornton Trust, and the Thornton Center for Boys I’d like to welcome you all, for this our first gathering of family.” As he spoke those words a handsome young man hurried into the room. Ron and Matt rose from their seats and rushed to their friend embracing him, then led him to his seat. Jack Smith had arrived from New York.

Leonard again began to speak after the short pause.

“In this room is the heart of the Thornton Center. These are the people who made all this possible and the people who will live and work there. I’d like to introduce the Thornton Staff first, then turn the podium over to Ron Turner. I’ll ask you to hold your applause until all the introductions are complete. I’m sure that the boys will appreciate it.” He grinned at the boys, some of whom were shaking their heads in agreement.

“ My name is Leonard Johnson, I’m the Director of the Center.  The lovely lady next to my empty chair is my wife Marsha. Please rise, honey. …Next I’d like you to meet Frances Peale, the Secretary for the Center, and Director of Admissions.” Frances rose, then sat down. “Next is Rodney Jones, who will be keeping track of our expenditures and purchases”. He rose. “Sam Hobbs is next. He will be in charge of Grounds and Building Maintenance. …. Then there is Barry Young.” Barry rose, and a murmur from the boys for the handsome, muscular young man resulted in smiles and a few quiet laughs from the adult side. “Barry is our Athletic and Entertainment Director.” A few low ‘yeas’ were heard from the youth side of the room as Barry blushed….“Next I’d like to introduce Mabel Hendricks whose firm, Mabel’s Moppers, is in charge of the cleanliness of the Office and Recreation Buildings. …. And finally is a man that all of you boys will get to know well. His name is Matt Davidson, who is our Boys’ Counselor. …. I am saving the best ‘til last. I’d like you all to meet our first two house parent couples. First, Tom and Shirley Anderson who will live in the Thornton House, and Don and Pam Brown, the house-parents of the Turner House.  Unfortunately, Harry and Linda Garrison, the house parents of the Jack Smith House are in the process of moving and couldn’t join us tonight. Let’s give all these fine people a hand.”

The room vibrated with the sound of applause.

“Now I will turn the podium over to Ron Turner. To many in this town, the name Turner is synonymous with achievement and generosity. Your next speaker is a man of many talents, which have brought the name Turner to new heights:  our host and benefactor, Ron Turner.

Again the room was filled with the sounds of clapping as Ron took the stand.

Ron began. “Most of the time when I stand up, I’m greeted with catcalls. My friends in the audience normally expect either a prayer or a joke. I think the catcalls are in anticipation of one of my jokes.”  Laughter broke out from the adult side of the room.  “I can’t begin to tell you how honored I am to be with all of you tonight, and I thank you for allowing me to speak. We have several honored guests with us, but first I must introduce the man who is responsible for all of this. His name is Jack Smith. He’s the handsome man sitting next to my partner Matt. Before I invite him up here to speak, I’d like to tell you the story of Jack Smith and Ted Thornton.”

“One of the companies that I own, along with my brother, Tyler, and partner, Matt, is Turner Consulting. This firm analyzes companies and business operations, making suggestions and plans for their improvement. Three years ago we hired two young, handsome and promising analysts named Jack Smith and Ted Thornton. Not only were they partners in our business, but they were life partners. They were brilliant men and were responsible for saving several businesses from ruin and causing several others to excel in performance and earnings. After one such successful project, Ted and Jack were out celebrating, stopping before dinner for a cocktail.  As they left the cocktail lounge, which was known for it’s gay patronage, a gang attacked them. Jack was severely injured and Ted was killed. The gang was eventually caught, tried and are now behind bars.
In lieu of flowers or gifts for Ted’s funeral, Jack requested that a fund be set up to help gay boys and young men. Thus began the Thornton Trust, the benefactor of the Thornton Center for Boys that we celebrate tonight. We can all be proud of the namesake of our Center. He was a fine man and a wonderful example. Now here is the real motivator behind this enterprise, Jack Smith.”

The room rose to its feet as deafening applause filled the spacious room. Jack took the podium after receiving a hug from Ron.  The applause died down as the audience was seated and waited for Jack to speak.

“There are many that need to be thanked for this wonderful achievement and, if you all don’t mind, I’d like to address my remarks principally to the boys. Guys, I hope you find safety, comfort and hope in your new home at the Thornton Center. Many people are responsible for it; I only started the ball rolling. Ron, Matt and many, many more carried the ball with their efforts and contributions. I must point out that a large group of the contributors are straight. They are people who share the love for kids, regardless of their background, race or sexual orientation. It is their wish to help all of you become contributing members of society, a future society where all men truly have the same opportunities for achievement.”

“Ted Thornton was my life partner. I loved him like life itself. I felt that part of me died with him, but part of me lived on to help bring this Center into existence in his memory. Ted loved kids; we often talked about adopting a gay youngster or two of our own. Now we have you. Make us proud of you, as we want you to be proud of yourself.  Good people are good people, and bums are bums, regardless of their background, orientation, fame or financial success.  Many of you have found life on the streets difficult and unloving.” Jack paused and cleared his throat as tears began to fill his eyes.  “The Thornton Center was created for you. Here you can find the family you need. These people that you just met will love you, and teach you and care for you. Give them a chance. Give yourself a chance.  Make for yourself a wonderful future.  Thank you, from myself and from my partner and love of my life, Ted Thornton.”

As he returned to his seat, the room again filled with applause. Ron remained standing and returned to the dais.

“Thank you Jack. I’m sure that Ted is smiling down from above.”   Ron looked around the room, then smiled himself, before he continued.

“There will be a formal public opening of the Thornton Center in two weeks, with politicians and well wishers in abundance, but tonight is family night. That’s what we are becoming tonight: a family. This night is for us.  Now I will introduce a few special family members that we have invited to share with us this joyous evening.

You have met my partner Matt, who will be on the staff at the Thornton Center, and of course Jack Smith, the founder of the Thornton Trust, which provided the funds to build the Center, and will continue to fund it’s operation.  Now I’d like to introduce Mr. Peterson, the administrator of the Thornton Trust, who is responsible for it’s financial wellbeing.”

Mr. Peterson stood and took a bow to the applause of the participants.

“Next meet Ms. Beverly Comstock.  Beverly is the Deputy Director of the Las Vegas Youth Homeless Shelter. The shelter has provided a great service to the community, and will be referring gay youths who desire our help to the Thornton Center. Beverly, take a bow.”

Beverly rose, looked around the room smiling, nodded, and again was seated.  

Last, I’d like to introduce a new member of our Board of Directors, Mr. Ken Friday, the owner of Friday’s Tire Stores. What might be of interest to some of you boys is that Mr. Friday has offered to provide jobs and job experience to the older boys who want employment. Thanks for being with us, Ken.”

Ken stood and received the appreciation of the guests in attendance.

Ron looked to his right, and pulled a sheet of paper from a small folder that he had carried to the stage, then looking at the staff and older guest he began speaking again. .

“And now, the highlight of the evening, and the reason we celebrate as a family: Let’s meet the boys.”

        *    *    *    *    *

To be continued… JET