The story below is a work of fiction. It may contain erotic or sexually explicit behavior between males. If you find this offensive or are two young to read it, please exit.

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

Dedication: To Mitch and Brent who inspired the characters Rich and Brandt in my first book, Ron and Bryan. HUGs.

If you’d like to comment or say ‘hi’, my e-mail address is .


Chapter Seventeen

Saturday afternoon, Thornton Center

The jeep pulled into the parking lot of the Thornton Center at 1:30. Pete, who was driving, saw Cody standing near the administration building on the sidewalk. The topless vehicle swung around the parking lot and stopped in the drive next to the dark haired young man.

“Hi Pete,” Cody said grinning as he climbed in. “Glad you could come and get me.”

“Hi Cody,” Pete said returning the greeting. “I’m glad to see you too.”

“I’m really sorry to hear about your apartment, pick-up and all your stuff.”

“Thanks.  I’m still in a daze. I guess the good part was that I wasn’t hurt. It’s hard to believe that somebody could hate me enough to blow up a whole apartment building. How could someone put so little value on innocent lives that they plan on killing several people, just to get to one? That’s something I’ll never understand.”

“I’m sure everything will be ok,” Cody said trying to comfort his friend. “Ron and Matt will take care of everything.”

“I’m not sure I want that. Know what I mean? I’ve been on my own for almost two years, since right after I got out of high school. I didn’t have much, but I’ve worked for every bit of it. My parents gave me nothing. Now it’s all gone and I’m gonna have to start over. I know that Ron mentioned that he wanted to help with my college, but I’m gonna have to work so hard to recover, I might not be able to go. I’ll probably have to work two jobs for awhile.”

“Why wouldn’t you let Ron and Matt help you? I mean like, it’s not your fault that those guys were crazy.”

“Maybe so, but it wasn’t Ron’s nor Matt’s fault either. Why should they pay for somebody else’s mistake?”

“I don’t know how to answer that. I know that they’ve helped me, Jason, Darryl and Sterling. Now, through the Center they’re helpin’ a lot more than just us. I can’t believe that they wouldn’t help you too.”

“Buckle up,” Pete reminded. “How do you like this jeep?” he asked, changing the subject as the machine started moving.

“It’s cool,” Cody replied. “I never rode in a car with its top down before. You can see everything!’

“Yeah. It was a nice day, so I helped Jeffery take the top off and we stowed it in the back. If it gets too cool, you and me can put it back on.”

“Where are we goin’?” Cody asked.

“Dorothy suggested that we drive up to Redrock Canyon. She said it wasn’t too far and it’s real pretty. I love Ron’s house, but it feels good to get away. Jeffery’s been real nice to me, but he went to Robert’s today for lunch and then they’re gonna go to the movies this afternoon. I didn’t really want to knock around at Ron’s alone. I mean Dorothy, Parker and Mary have been great to me, but they’re not the kind of folks young guys hang around with. I got nothin’ against old people. Hey, I really like hangin’ with Ron and he’s almost 30!”

Cody grinned, as he wasn’t sure if Pete was pulling his leg, or not. The wind blew through their hair as the Jeep moved at 50 miles per hour toward the west part of town. They looked at each other and smiled, listening to the sound of Rock and Roll pouring out of the speakers with a mighty booming beat. They were young and they were free and they were happy being together. All other mundane details and worries were left behind in the pleasure of the moment.

            *        *        *

Saturday evening, Ron and Matt’s

Ron, Matt, Tyler and Dan were tired after the long day. The trip to San Diego had been fruitful, and the condo would be a great place for weekend getaways. The journey to the yacht harbor had taken a bit longer than anticipated. There were a couple of commercial piers large enough for either the P-T I or II but Ron preferred the Yacht Club. One of the piers there could be lengthened slightly for either yacht, at the member’s cost, naturally, and memberships were available, but had to be voted on by the Board of Directors. Ron filled out the appropriate forms naming himself and Tyler as principal members. He left a check for $30,000 for the membership fee, $50,000 for the extension of the pier, and $10,000 for a deposit on pier rental. Should their membership be denied, the money would be returned.  It was late in the afternoon when the plane lifted from Lindbergh Field and the G-V headed for home.

Ron looked at his watch as they walked into the house with their luggage. Setting it down in the elevator hallway, he saw Pete stick his head out of the game room.  

“I’ll take the stuff up for you Matt,” Tyler offered having also seen the young man. “You and Ron go on over and say hi to Pete. I’ll join you in a few.”

“Thanks Bro,” Ron and Matt said in unison.

Tyler grinned like he’d just been awarded first prize.

“Afterward, we’ll take Dan’s and my stuff to ‘my place’, then we’ll be back,” Tyler added. “I’d like to wash up before we eat.”

“K,” Matt acknowledged.

Tyler gave Dan a quick peck on the lips as the elevator doors closed.

Turning away from the elevator lobby the men headed for the game room. As they entered, they saw Pete and Cody playing a video game.

“Hi guys,” Ron said as he walked through the opening. “You guys have dinner yet?”

“Nah, Mary left a bunch of stuff, but we haven’t touched it yet. There’s enough there for all of us,” Pete answered.

“Let’s go in the kitchen and see what she has for us. Tyler and Dan will join us in a little bit.”

“Ok, I’ll help.” Cody said as he lay down the controller.

Ron, Matt and the two boys went into the kitchen and began to unload the refrigerator onto the counter.

“I know we’d all like to swap stories,” Ron began, “but let’s wait ‘til the rest of the guys join us.” On a different tack he asked, “Cody, how are things at Thornton?”

“It’s ok,” Cody replied. “Just different. My roommate is Mike Thomas. He seems like a nice enough guy, though we haven’t really had too much time to talk. Friday night and Saturday we were busy getting settled, and he wasn’t being real talkative. Today we had breakfast and a short work session in our rooms while the house parents went over all the guy’s clothing needs. Then we had lunch and announcements.  A lot of the guys went shopping for clothing with the house parents this afternoon, but I didn’t go because Parker had already got me a lot of stuff, so I called Pete and he came and got me with the Jeep.”

When do you have to go back?” Ron asked.

“I talked to Shirley, and she said it was all right to stay out until 11, cause we don’t have school tomorrow. We enroll in school on Monday, and after that it will be harder to be gone on school nights because of homework.

“Speaking of Parker,” Pete said. “That guy is amazing. When I got up this morning, he had the clothes I have on waiting for me. They fit perfect too! Then when Cody and I got back from Redrock Canyon, I found the dresser and closet in my room full of more new stuff, including work clothes, on top of what he got me last evening.”

Ron laughed. “Well, ya gotta forgive Parker. He LOVES to shop. It’s almost like a contest to him. If you want something new or different and he hasn’t thought of it first, he’s crushed.”

“Yeah, I can see that,” Pete said nodding, “but that stuff costs a lot of money. It’s gonna take me forever to pay you back.”

“It would really hurt Parker’s feelings, if he thought you had to pay for the stuff,” Ron said. “He’d think he spent too much, knowing you don’t make a lot of money. Let’s just save his feelings. Keep the stuff and never mention it again, except to thank Parker, of course.”

“Yeah, but you end up getting stuck with the bill,” Pete protested.

“It’s a small price to pay for Parker being happy,” Ron said. “I never have to worry about any of the small inconveniences of life. He takes care of all that stuff for me and for Matt too. I don’t even remember the last time I bought a pair of socks, or a tube of toothpaste. Besides, he loves taking care of you guys too.”

“Well, if you say so,” Pete said grudgingly. “I’m just used to having to work for what I have. Work is something I’m not afraid of.”

“I’m glad to hear you say that Pete. It shows a great deal of maturity. Nevertheless, the stuff that’s happened to you was bad and not your fault. Sometimes it’s harder to receive than it is to give, especially if we let pride get in the way. Ah, enough of that. Here come the guys now.”

Tyler and Dan came into the kitchen and exchanged greetings with the younger pair. Then Ron suggested that everyone help themselves to the cold chicken, potato salad and dessert that Mary had left, then take it over to the breakfast room table, where the dining could be casual, and they could chat.

When they were seated with their selections. Ron said a quick blessing for the food and they began to eat. Matt was having to eat left handed, because of the cast on his arm, so the going was slow for him.

The conversation immediately became an exchanging of the tales of the bombings. Ron went first telling of the emergency landing, the blast and the aftermath in the hospital. Pete told of his rescue by Wes and the carnage that was the wreckage of the apartment complex. He told of his short interrogation by the police and his transport to Ron and Matt’s house and the hospitality shown by the staff, particularly Jeffery.

“Well, I guess we’ll need to go shopping tomorrow,” Ron said.

“Uh, what for?” Pete asked, afraid of the answer.

“Well, I’d say that a new pick-up is in order. The Toyotas and Nissans are both nice.”

“Yeah, they’re nice, but I can’t afford a new truck.” Pete answered. “I’ve got a couple hundred bucks in the bank, but I doubt that it will be enough to even get me a tiny apartment. I was planning on riding the bus for awhile.”

“Who said anything about you buying a truck,” Ron said with a wink to Matt. “Assistant Superintendents get a company truck.”

“Assistant Superintendent? You don’t mean me, do ya?” Pete asked in shock.

“Sure do,” Ron said. “Terry suggested it shortly after I met you. I think it’s a fine idea. We still have two more houses to finish in Phase One at Thornton. By that time we’ll probably be starting on Tyler’s house, if we don’t decide to move right into Phase Two at the Thornton Center. Of course, you’ll get a raise too. Terry mentioned $750 a week. Does that sound ok to you?”

“Wow! It’s more than alright. It’s great! I might even be able to afford a decent place, if I don’t have to buy a truck.”

“Do you know where the Sahara Vista Apartments are?” Ron asked.

“Yeah, I had to deliver some supplies over there to the maintenance guy once. Nice guy, but kinda old. Sure knows a lot though. I had my brown bag with me and we talked after I unloaded the supplies. I guess it’s a lot of work to keep the place as nice as it appears to be.”

“I had Margaret call the manager over there. She found out there’s a one bedroom, furnished apartment that’s vacant. I think we can get it pretty cheap too. Seems I know the owner,” Ron said with a wink at Tyler.

“Awesome!” Pete said. “How much?’

“Well, the manager mentioned that the maintenance guy, could use some help one Saturday a month. If you’d be willing to help him, I think the rent would be $550.”

“Wow!” That’s about what I was paying for that fleabag I was living in before. Of course I’ll do it.  Woo Hoo!”  Pete whooped. “Now I can afford to take some classes at the community college!”

“Yeah,” Ron said, “but I’d hate to have you struggle for money too much. Margaret talked to Mr. Peterson who runs the educational trust for Matt, Tyler and me. He got convinced that you would be a good candidate for a scholarship, covering your tuition and books. If you have any extra money, we’d be glad to invest it for you too. We’ve been doing pretty well.”
Pete’s eyes filled with tears.

“It’s too much for me to even believe,” he said sniffing. “First Tyler saved my life, then I got rescued from the bomb and now all of this. I don’t know why you’re doing this. It’s really too much and way, way more than I deserve.”

“Pete,” Matt interjected. “I think what Ron is trying to say with all of this, is that we love you and consider you part of our family. We’re here for you, buddy.”

Pete got up from the table and came around to where Ron was sitting.

“I don’t know what to say; how to thank you,” he said to Ron who stood as he approached.

“I’ll take a hug for starters,” replied Ron smiling at the youth. “As for the thanks, your expression says it all. No other thanks are necessary. And yes, you’re welcome, my friend.”

He opened his arms and received his payment and was quickly joined by Tyler, Matt, Dan and Cody. After several moments when each had absorbed the love that was exchanged and stored it away as a treasured memory, the huddle finally broke up.

Enthusiastically Tyler said, “I think this calls for a celebration! Let’s pile into the Escalade and find an ice cream shop. I’m in the mood for a banana split, and I’m buyin’.”

            *        *        *

Sunday Morning, Ron and Matt’s

Ron, Matt, Tyler and Dan sat in the breakfast room sipping coffee and juice, after partaking of Mary’s usual elegant Sunday buffet breakfast.

“That was certainly delicious,” Dan commented. “I don’t know how you guys keep so trim with all the great food that Mary prepares.”

“It’s not easy,” agreed Matt. “I got off of my exercise program when I went to work at Thornton as a laborer. That was plenty of exercise by itself. Now, I’m gonna have to go back to it, since most of my activities will be in the office.”

“Ron, I think what you’ve done for Pete is awesome,” Dan commented. “I know he appreciates it.”

“He had a tough road ahead even without the attack,” Ron replied. “And the attack at Thornton was unforgivable. He’s such a great young guy and acted heroically up on the mountain. Those kinds of guys deserve a boost. He’ll make a mark someday, as long as he gets a proper start.”

“Well, I’d say you’ve done that.” Dan responded.

“Me nothing,” Ron answered back. “We’re a team, all four of us.”

Tyler smiled and winked at Dan.

“Are you guys up for a trip to the office?” Ron asked. “I’ll show you the new digs, Tyler. Then you can get your ass busy getting over here. There’s plenty for you to do.”

“Now what do you have in mind,” Tyler asked.

“Well you know I mentioned to you my concern about the charities that seem to operate for the good of themselves rather than the causes they are supposed to represent?  I think we should start working on those. I don’t think it’s as much a matter of prosecution as a matter of exposure. I’d like to get those guys outta town. Sooner or later, we’ll chase ‘em clear out of business. I want to do that in New York too. If we can’t figure out some way to pay for it out of one of the charitable trusts, I’ll pay for it out of the company, or out of my own pocket, if necessary.”

We’ve got a boat trip to plan that’s coming up soon too. Then there is the ‘commitment ceremony’ for Matt and me. I’m thinking of doing it on the trip, but I haven’t figured out how we’re gonna handle it,  ‘cause there’s a lot of people that will want to be there that won’t be on the trip.”

“How ‘bout we do it out of Key West, Babe,” Matt suggested. We could fly the guests there and have the ceremony on the P-T II. I’m sure for a wedding and the party, it could handle 200 people easily,”  

“There might be more than that with our guests,” Tyler said looking like the cat that ate the canary.

“Your guests?” Matt asked with a questioning look.

“Yeah. We thought we might make it a ‘double ring ‘ ceremony,” Dan said sheepishly, but with a big grin.

“Wow! Ron responded rising to his feet. “I think that would be great!”

Joined by Matt, the couple wrapped their arms around Ron’s brother and his ‘intended’ for another group hug.

        *        *        *

Monday morning, RET offices

Ron walked down the corridor toward his office.  Monday had come quickly and both Tyler and Dan had departed for their homes.   Matt had left early in the day to begin his first “real” day as the counselor at Thornton, and Pete had spent his last evening as a guest at Ron and Matt’s. When he got off work, he’d be moving into his own new apartment. The rent arrangement was worked out and he loved his new place. The new Nissan pick-up that Ron purchased on Sunday after the apartment was acquired, was like a dream to the young man.

Ron approached Margaret’s desk.

“Morning Ron,” Margaret greeted her boss and friend.

“Morning, Right Hand Lady,” Ron replied. “What’s on the hot list for today?”

Margaret handed Ron the Monday reports and looked at Ron’s schedule.  

“You’ve got an hour to go over the reports, then I lined-up Charlie Parker with the whiz kids, Jeff Davis, and Phil Thompson for a 10 o’clock meeting as you asked.”

“The executive staff meeting will start at 11:30 instead of the normal noon.”

“The afternoon has been left open for you to go out to the Thornton Center. There are several people who want to meet with you, but I’ve held them off until Tuesday.”

“Thanks Margaret. Would you ask Mr. Peterson to drop in right after our  lunch meeting.. Tell, him I’d like to discuss Boy’s Ranch and the local youth shelter.”

“Consider it done, Boss,” Margaret said smiling. “Now the important stuff. How are you and Matt feeling?”

“Physically we’re fine Margaret. I think the trauma of the near miss has shaken up Matt a little. To be honest it has me too. I guess we think we’re immortal.”

“Is Tyler reinstituting your personal protection?”

“Yeah, it started last night when Tyler left. I really don’t notice the ‘shadow’ but he’s there. Matt and I will have protection during the day, but at night we’ll have the security system at home.  Wes Harper will still be following up on the investigation.  Oh, I thought I’d mention that Tyler is very happy with the office arrangement. He should be moving here on Thursday or Friday. He’s bringing just six staffers from L.A., plus the three guys he currently has here. He thinks that will be enough until the new building is finished. He’ll still visit L.A. for a day a week for the next month, to wind up a few things, then he will be here full time.”

“One more thing,” Ron continued. “Matt and I have joined Tyler in buying a condo in San Diego. It will be a nice get away spot. I guess we can go over any other items at 11. Thanks for the reports.”

“Sure ‘nuf’ boss,” Margaret answered. “It’s good to have you back.”

“Thanks Margaret. It’s wonderful to be here.”

            *        *        *

Monday morning, Thornton Center

It had been a busy morning for Matt. Most of it had been working with the house parents
getting the boys enrolled into school. Mrs. Brown, the Clark County School District Director of Admission had heeded the call from Ron and had appeared at the middle school and high school to assure there were no hiccups, and had brought with her the information on the GED program for the older boys, Russ Strickler and Derek Bodine. Matt had a meeting with both boys scheduled for after lunch to go over the forms and get them signed up for the program. For the next few days, he would be working with Frances Peale, Leonard’s Admissions Director, contacting parents and trying to unravel the legal hassles of caring for minor boys.  A hearing had been set up with Judge Brand, the family court judge to deal with uncooperative or missing parents. Of major importance was the cooperation of the Child Welfare agency. Ron had, months before, spun his magic charm at the agency, which was overworked, understaffed and under funded to handle even their regular caseload. The result of the meeting was the promise of their cooperation that was vital to the success of the Thornton Center.

            *        *        *

Monday mid-morning, Ron’s office

“Come in Charlie and have a seat. Hi Phil. Mornin’ Jeff,” Ron said in greeting.

After everyone was seated, they chatted for a few moments about the traumatic weekend. During that time, Margaret came in and poured coffee and juice, then Ron began the meeting.

“How are things going with Turner Consulting, Charlie? The numbers look good, but they’re just numbers. It seems like there is never enough time for us to chat.”

“All is fine,” Charlie answered. “We’re staying busy here and the New York office is up and running. We’ve even got a few contracts out of our L.A. office too, so we’re growing fast. Seems like every time I turn around we’re hiring more people.”

“You know that you’ve got my support Charlie. If there’s anything I can do, you only have to ask.”

“Well, now that you mention it. I could use a favor.”

“Name it Charlie,” Ron said.

“I’d like Robert Cantwell to come to work exclusively with Turner Consulting. He’s a bright kid, and even though he’s going to school, I’m sure he would be an asset.”

“Have you talked to him about it?” Ron asked.

“Yeah, I have. He’s interested I can tell, but I’m also positive that he’s joined at the hip with you and Jan. He is one loyal soldier, I can promise you. If you even hinted that you’d rather him do anything else, a gold plated offer from me wouldn’t budge him.”

“You have my permission. I’ll speak to him this afternoon,” Ron responded. “You have to make your own deal with him though.  If it isn’t attractive enough for him, he stays with Jan. Deal?”

“Deal,” Charlie said smiling. “Now, what can we do for you this morning?  I’m sure you didn’t summon us here to inquire about our weekend.”

“Actually, there are several things,” Ron admitted. “First, I’d like the boys here to meet with Mr. Peterson and do a quick study of Boy’s Ranch, and also the Las Vegas Youth Homeless Shelter. Both seem to be bursting at the seams. I’m not sure if they lack expertise, staff or money, but in any case I need to know. A recommendation between you and Mr. Peterson would really be appreciated.”

“How much time do we have?” Jeff Davis asked.

“Don’t hold up any paying customers,” Ron said grinning. “Anytime in the next couple of weeks will be fine.

Ron’s intercom buzzed. Margaret announced that Mr. Peterson would come to his office at 1 o’clock. Ron thanked her, and turning to the whiz kids, he asked Jeff and Phil to return after lunch to meet with Ron and Mr. Peterson. Continuing on he asked, “Next, how’s the Friday’s Tires study coming?”

“It’s been done for a week,” Phil Thompson answered. “We met with Ken, after it had been approved by Charlie and showed him that by refinancing his buildings at today’s favorable rates, he could carry two more stores at no increase in fixed cost. We also made some suggestions for design changes in his stores that should reduce his labor costs by about 10%.  He was astounded at the projections.”

“I’m pleased,” Ron said in a voice of genuine admiration. “You’re a good team.”

“Yeah,” Jeff said winking at Phil and licking his lips seductively.

“Ahem!”  Charlie said clearing his throat.

Ron just laughed.

            *        *        *

Monday noon, Thornton Center

“Russ Strickler,” the youth said into the phone’s mouthpiece.

“Russ, this is Ken Friday. I think we might have an opening for you if you’re interested.”

“Wow!  That’s great Sir.”

“We’ll have to talk about it of course. Could you come down to our office this afternoon to meet with the manager of the West Lake Mead store and me?”

“Sure!  I mean, I don’t have a car, but I’ll get there somehow, if I have to walk.”

“That won’t be necessary,” Ken said laughing. “I’ll send David Simms out to pick you up. He’s one of our young guys. You can talk to him on the way about the kind of things that he does for us, if you’d like. I’ll have him there in one of our trucks at 2 o’clock. He’ll meet you out by the Administration Building in the parking lot.”

“Thanks Mr. Friday. I’ll be there for sure. Thank you for the opportunity.”

“You’re most welcome son. I’m sure you’ll do well with us. Now all we have to do is convince my manager.”

“I’ll do my part,” Russ promised.

“I bet you will,” Ken said smiling to himself. “See you later.”

“Ok, and thanks again.”

“You’re welcome again, Russ. G’bye.”

Ken Friday hung-up the receiver and sat back in his chair deep in thought. Ron was right. Since he’d been meeting with the psychologist and had dumped his self-pity, concentrating instead on helping other people, his whole outlook had changed. He was happier than he’d been in years. He picked up the phone and punched-in the number of his home. He was going to ask his wife out to dinner.

            *        *        *

Monday Afternoon, Ron’s office

The rest of Ron’s day had gone well. The staff meeting was productive as usual, and was fairly routine, except that Ron had asked Jan to re-evaluate their aircraft needs since the Citation had been destroyed. The Yacht trip was scheduled to begin in three weeks, and the list of participants was discussed and agreed upon. Ron also asked Jan to advise him on the practicality of placing either the P-T I or II in San Diego. Their financial numbers looked even better than anyone expected and not only was the combined net worth of Ron, Tyler and Matt approaching two billion dollars, but the combined worth of the Turner Trust, the Friendship Trust and the Thornton trust was close to reaching the first “b” too.

The meeting with Mr. Peterson had gone as expected. He was happy to work with Phil and Jeff on Ron’s concerns about the Boys’ Ranch and Homeless Shelter, and stood ready to aid them in any way he could. He also reported that the first phase of the Thornton Center had come in under budget, even after all of the first 5 houses would be finished. The trust fund was healthy too, and could stand the hit of the second phase if necessary, at any time. Ron also told him that Tyler would be working with him too, when he arrived for good.  Ron wanted them to investigate “rip-off” charities and expose them for what they are. Mr. Peterson reported that he had several likely candidates for Tyler’s initial investigation but would save them for his arrival.

When Mr. Peterson left Ron asked for Robert Cantwell to be summoned. As Ron had hoped Robert was elated at the offer to move into Turner Consulting, but wanted Ron’s advice. Ron recommended the promotion highly and suggested that the younger man stick close to Phil and Jeff, as they were exceedingly talented and would go far. He did stress that the negotiations for the pay had to be settled with Charlie Parker and that Ron would not think less of Robert if the pay offered didn’t meet Robert’s expectations and   he decided to stay where he was. Robert asked Ron if he really didn’t want him to go to
Turner Consulting. Ron answered by saying that he thought he should go, but didn’t want Robert to sell his services too cheaply. Robert understood and grinned. After thanking Ron he left the room.

            *        *        *

Late afternoon, Phoenix Arizona

Tom Clark lay in an irrigation ditch 500 yards from his cousin’s house. Two unmarked cars and a Highway Patrol car sat surrounding the modest dwelling, their occupants inside.

Tom was not worried about his cousin. She was tough as nails and was not easily intimidated. She came fully equipped with their family’s dislike of authority and the penchant for bigotry. Tom felt fortunate that his cousin and her husband worked a small farm far on the western edge of Phoenix. He felt more elated that the house was located in a remote location two miles from paved roads When the cars approached carrying the agents and the patrol officer, the dust from the dirt road gave a telltale signal, allowing time for Tom to hide out in a ditch serving the fields. He was thinking about his escape.

It had taken Tom only 15 minutes to find the proper tools to remove the handcuffs in the machine shop at the airport maintenance facility in Tucson. 5 minutes later, “borrowing” a fuel truck, he was gone. Now almost two days later, after the lengthy trip to Phoenix, 30 miles of it made on foot, he lay on his belly in a ditch. He had surprised his cousin with his arrival but an hour and a telling of the tale later, she had agreed to hide him and help him.

Now he lay in the ditch, the bottom of which was covered with mud and cold water, causing him to shiver in the chilly late afternoon. As he suffered the cold and chill, he began to plan his revenge.

            *    *    *    *    *