nameless. He was accused of being gay (rightly) and asked to leave or be expelled. As Peter, Paul and Mary sang a very few years later, “The times, they are a changin’”. For those of you who are young, it’s hard to imagine that kind of thing happening, but that’s the way it was.
If you’d like to comment or just say ‘hi’ I’m at JETjt@aol.com J
RON AND MATT
Monday early afternoon, Thornton Center
David Simms had no trouble finding the campus of the Thornton Center. As
he turned into the parking lot he saw the handsome profile of Russell Strickler
standing on the walk outside the building that sported a brass sign declaring
it to be ‘ADMINISTRATION.’
The truck he was driving, one of Friday’s tire repair vehicles, would be hard to miss. As he approached, he saw the weather-worn face of the cute 17 year-old as he smiled after reading the name on the vehicle’s nearest door. David waved at Russell indicating that he should climb in. Russ stepped to the truck, opened the door and hopped onto the passenger seat.
“Hi,” Dave said smiling and offering his handshake. “My name is David Simms. I’m your chauffeur in this Friday limo.”
“Nice to meet you David. My name’s Russell; Russell Strickler but my friends call me Russ.”
“Nice to meet you too, Russ. My friends call me Dave.”
“Where are we going?” Russ asked.
“To Friday’s office. Mr. Friday has a company office in a small office complex on Decatur. It’s not too big; you know, a receptionist, an accounting office and a purchasing office; that kind of thing. Most of the real action is at the stores.”
“How many stores does Mr. Friday own?”
“There are 7 right now. He’s got plans to build two more.”
“Where do you work?” Russ asked.
“I work at a store on North Rainbow. It’s one of his newer ones.”
“Do you like it?’
“Yeah. It’s a good place to work. Of course, changing tires is dirty and
tiring work. Ya gotta hustle your ass too, ‘cause in most cases, the customer
is waiting. In three of the stores, we do light repair work too. The one
I work in has 5 tire bays and 4 service bays.
I do mostly tires, but I’m learning the mechanic stuff too and get to work at that when they’re busy or need some extra help, like when one of the guys is off. I do mostly easy stuff now, oil changes, battery replacement and stuff like that.”
“How much does it pay?”
“Well, I started at $8 an hour but I’ve been there a year and I’m up to $9.50 now. There’s some mechanics that make $18 but you’ve got to be pretty good for that. I haven’t decided whether to go toward being a mechanic, or to work inside and maybe get into management.”
“Sounds like there’s some choices you can make anyway,” Russ commented. “I hope I can get hired.”
“Mr. Friday is always looking for good people. I’m sure you’ll do ok. Of course getting the job and keeping it are two different things. As I always say, you can spot a lazy guy in the first hour. I’ve seen quite a few guys that didn’t make it past the first day. They either quit because it was too tiring, or they got let go because they didn’t want to work.”
“I’m pretty strong, and I’m not afraid of hard work,” Russ responded.
“You look like you’ve got a good build,” Dave replied. “I don’t think you’ll have any problems in the strength department.”
“You can’t see nothin’ with this baggy shirt I have on,” Russ said proudly. “You should see me without this shirt.”
“I’d like that.” Dave said softly.
“Huh?” Russ asked, looking at Dave’s reddening face.
“Uh, I said, ‘I’m sure of that’.”
“I think I heard ya the first time,” Russ said smiling. “Who knows? You might get lucky.”
“I’d really like that!”
“I’d like it too, if we’re talkin’ ‘bout the same thing.”
“Uh, I think we’d better change the subject, before all the other drivers see my face and think it’s a red light,’ Dave kidded.
“Good plan, Dave. Tell me some more about the job.”
“There are some little tricks on the job to keep you from having to do everything with brute strength. Some of the new guys try to act real macho, and think that the little tricks are wimping out. They’re the ones that are dead on their butts at the end of the day. Not me and not the guys who use their brains instead of their muscles. I’ve gotten a lot stronger too. I’m not that big a guy and at first it was really tiring, even with the tricks the guys showed me. I was determined though and after not too long my body got stronger. Now I can work a 12 hour shift if we have to, and still not feel exhausted.”
“That’s pretty impressive,” Russ said. “You look pretty trim.”
“Yeah, I’m not all bulked up. I’m a bit wiry. I guess I could get better defined if I worked at it, but quite frankly after a day of work, I’m not really anxious to go to the gym and work out.”
“I’m not a muscle freak myself,” Russ responded. “I like some definition, but huge pecs and arms, like the muscle studs develop, are too much for my liking.”
“Glad we can agree on that. Well here we are. We’ll go inside and I’ll wait
for you. Normally, you would be interviewed at the store, but Mr. Friday
was having a managers’
meeting, so he decided that it would happen here.”
“Does Mr. Friday interview all the new employees?”
“Nah, just the ones that work in management, or that work in the office. It’s kinda unusual that he will be part of the interview. The manager will do the interviewing I think, but I heard Mr. Friday say he wanted to sit in.”
“Well, here goes nothing,” Russ said gritting his teeth.
“Yeah, good luck, Russ.”
The boys stepped out of the service truck and headed for the door to the office.
* * *
Monday late afternoon, Las Vegas
The youth was catapulted onto the concrete stoop, torn and bleeding as his father shouted, “And don’t come back, you little cocksucker! You’re an abomination to the Lord! If I ever see your face again, you won’t be so lucky!”
The door slammed, and the tears streaking down the face of the boy were insufficient to describe the terror and humiliation he felt inside. His torn clothing only hinted at the punishment his body had endured. Lifting himself up with his arms, he saw that his hands were red with blood from slamming into the rough concrete while trying to break his fall. He stood and staggered toward the street, pressing the torn skin into place; holding his hands together to staunch the flow of blood that dripped from his palms.
‘Where can I go?’ he thought with his mind in a daze. ‘I can’t go to Tommy’s. If his dad finds out what we did together, he’ll be out on the street too. I don’t have any other friends that would help either. Maybe I can go downtown and ask around for a place that can help me.’
Wincing at the pain that shot through his body with each step, Benny Young labored in shock toward his destination.
* * *
Monday early evening, Ron and Matt’s
“It’s for you Ron,” Parker said, walking toward his boss and friend who was chatting with Matt in the family room. “It’s a Detective Chestnut.” He placed the portable device into the outstretched hand.
“Ron Turner,” he said into the mouthpiece.
“Mr. Turner, this is Detective Perry Chestnut. I’m the officer that brought you that Sterling kid a couple of weeks ago.”
“Ah yes Detective, what can I do for you?”
“Please call me Perry, Sir. Sorry to call you at home, Sir, but I’ve got another one for you,” he replied.
“That’s ok Perry, and I’m Ron. Another street walker?”
“No, this one’s different. I was doing my regular patrol thing, and I spotted this kid staggering down Fremont Street. At first I thought he was drunk, but he’s too little and young. Then I saw the blood. He’s had a hell of a beating. I think he needs medical care, but he’s reluctant because he says he can’t pay. I finally got enough of the story out of him to figure out what happened. It seems that his father found him and his boy ‘companion’ in a compromising situation, and beat him within an inch of his life before pitching him out onto the street.”
“Are you going to press charges against the father?”
“I don’t think so,” Perry said. “First he refuses to confirm that his father did it. He did have an ID even though he is too young to have a regular driver’s license. I called the Station and talked to the Captain, with the information I had. He told me that they’d do an I.D. check and that I’d better head for UMC to have the kid examined. Halfway there he called back. I was instructed to forget the whole thing and dump the kid.”
“That’s terrible,” Ron responded in amazement.
“Yes sir. I asked why, and was told, ‘you don’t want to know.’ I was instructed to do as I had been ordered. Ron … I can’t just dump this kid. If someone doesn’t care for him he could easily die on the street. He sure as hell can’t defend himself. I can’t live with that, so I had to call to see if you could help.”
“Thank you for that, Perry,” Ron said gratefully. “Where are you?”
“I’m almost to UMC. I don’t dare disobey my orders though.”
“I understand Perry. Drive to the street in front of the E.R and in the meantime, give me the kid’s name,” Ron instructed. “I’ll stay on the line.”
Covering the mouthpiece, Ron turned to Matt and said in a low voice. “Get Paul McInerny on my cell phone.”
Matt leaped to his feet and rushed into the kitchen and then toward the door to the garage where Ron would leave his phone on entering the palatial home. Picking up the phone, with his good arm he scanned the directory and found the number he was seeking. With some difficulty he pressed the ‘send’ key after selecting Paul’s personal number. He turned and moved quickly back into the family room in time to hear Ron speaking again to the policeman.
“Ok,” Ron said. “Do you see the sidewalk bench along the street in front of the emergency entrance? Is it occupied?”
“No, it’s empty.”
“Ok. Are you driving the same blue sedan that you had when we last met?”
Alright, park your car somewhere for a minute and keep the phone line open.”
“Paul?” Matt said, as Ron was finishing. “This is Matt Davidson, can you hold for Ron Turner?’… “Thanks.”
Matt handed the phone to Ron who lifted the phone to his other ear and spoke so both parties could hear what he was saying.
“Paul, I’ve got a big favor to ask.” Ron said.
“Of course, Ron. I owe you more than one,” the hospital administrator replied.
“I need you to call your E.R. Two minutes after I hang up, a blue Ford sedan will stop at the sidewalk bench at the street in front of the E.R. A young boy will get out and sit down on the bench and the car will drive off. I need your people to take a wheelchair out to the bench and take the kid into the E.R. His name is Benny Young. He’s been injured. I’ll be down there myself within 30 minutes to take care of the details. In the meantime, he needs immediate care.”
“I hope you’re not asking me to do something illegal. Not that I wouldn’t do it if you asked, but I need to know if I’m putting the hospital in jeopardy.”
“Paul, I can assure you that this kid is the last kid in Las Vegas that the Metropolitan Police Department is interested in.”
“This kid is not related to Senator Young is he?’
“I don’t have the slightest idea, Paul. I can only assure you though, that whatever the case is, you and the hospital will be protected.”
“That’s good enough for me. Consider it done,” Paul responded.
“Thanks Paul. Give me a call tomorrow and I’ll explain it all. Maybe we can have lunch.”
“I’ll do that Ron. Take care.”
Ron flipped the earpiece down on the phone, disconnecting the call.
“Did you get all of that Perry?” Ron asked into the portable.
“Yes Ron. Thanks. I knew I could count on you.”
“You’re welcome Perry, I really do appreciate you calling.”
“And I appreciate you covering my butt,” the cop responded.
“Not a problem my friend.”
“Well, I’m rolling. Take care.”
Ron flipped the earpiece down over the body of the phone, disconnecting the call. Looking at Matt, he said, “ Come on, Baby. We’ve got some work to do.”
* * *
Monday evening, Phoenix Arizona
The sun was setting. Tom, lying in the ditch near the edge of his cousin’s farm was soaked and muddy. The strange car was still parked at the house, so he knew he couldn’t stand up or he’d be spotted. Looking beyond the fence surrounding the field, he saw open desert with sparse desert shrubs and scattered mesquite trees. Of more interest was a rocky hill less than 50 yards away. A break in the fence would allow him to crawl to the hillock where, shielded from view from the house, he could dry out and at least sit up. He began crawling toward the hole in the fence. Snagging his pants on the wire as he slid through the opening, he swore in frustration and anger. Hugging close to the ground, he set his sights on the hill, crawling toward the backside where he could wait out the visitor to his cousin.
* * *
Gary Franklin sat at the kitchen table talking to Tom’s cousin, Christine Rogers.
“Ms. Rogers, I know we’ve been over this before, but can you tell me again, when was the last time you saw your cousin?”
“I hate to say this Agent Franklin, but yer startin’ to piss me off. I tol’ ya an’ I tol’ ya. You guys need hearing aids or somethin’?
“I know, and I apologize ma’am, it’s just that we expect him to contact you.”
“It don’t make me no never mind,” Christine said, shrugging her shoulders. “I couldn’t help a bug escape from a jar,” she explained. “This here farm is all I got from my jus’ daid husband, and I’m ‘bout to lose it too. I never was no good at farmin’ and the little help I can afford’re pretty pitiful too.”
Gary’s cell phone rang and holding the phone to his ear, listened to the caller without speaking. He pressed ‘off.’ The surveillance unit was in place and the phone line tapped. He could leave. He was tired and would be glad to return to his motel room for the night after checking in with the surveillance unit.
“Well, I’ve bothered you enough,” he said with the smallest of smiles. “We appreciate your help. If you hear from Tom Clark, please call me on my cellular phone. The number is on this card.”
“Shor ’nuf,” Christine said, with no intention of ever filling the request. “Well, g’night.”
Gary rose, and grabbing his coat turned toward the door.
* * *
Tom was almost there. The smooth desert floor began to be covered with small rock in prelude to the larger boulders ahead. It was damned hard on his knees, but now that his clothing was starting to dry, he was no longer cold. He was pleased at the height of the outcropping and as he skirted the hill, he saw an opening that appeared to be a small cave where he could hide. He smiled and got up on his feet. They would play hell catching him now.
As darkness closed in he was glad to have seen the cave this early. It was difficult to see in the fading light and it stayed barely visible as he approached the four-foot high opening.
He looked down, and was glad to see the sandy dirt of the desert extend into the opening. At least he would have a reasonably comfortable bed if he was forced to spend the night here, he reasoned. Bending over to clear the low opening’s top, then sinking again to his knees he crawled into the dark cave.
He heard the rattle one second before he felt the pain of two needle sharp fangs bury themselves in his neck. He panicked backing frantically out of the opening, grasping the snake whose sacs of venom were emptied through hollow fangs as they pressed against his flesh. Unable to extract them because of Tom’s pulling on the snake’s body, the 3 foot long snake dangled between his neck and his hands. At last it could release its bite and Tom, swinging it by its tail, slammed it into a large nearby rock crushing the bones in its head on impact.
Tom knew that rattlesnake venom was rarely fatal if early hospital care and anti-venom serum was administered promptly. It was now a matter of capture or his life. He chose life and began racing in the dark toward the home of his cousin. He could feel his neck becoming numb as he twisted through the hole in the fence that he’d passed through less than 30 minutes before. Clearing the obstacle, he raced alongside the ditch toward the welcoming lights from the house. The car was still parked outside, but he hardly noticed in his dash to the light. He imagined the venom coursing through his veins. His neck felt hot as he grasped the wound with his left hand. 20 feet from the porch he began to lose muscle control. The momentum of his running carried him forward as the door opened and the silhouette of a man was framed in light from behind. Tom’s legs began to give way as he tried to yell for help, but his vocal chords would not respond. Stopping, his eyes became glassy and he began to convulse as the first of the venom to reach his brain began to take effect. Staggering in a circle, he barely remained on his feet as he began to foam at the mouth. His bowels released as he lost all control of his body and he flopped onto the dead grass in front of the porch. Suddenly, he became rigid, then just as suddenly, totally relaxed. He was dead. The heart that had pumped the poison to his brain had ceased to function.
Gary and Christine had rushed from the porch as Tom had whirled in his circular dance of death. They reached out to him just as he fell writhing on the dead lawn. They knelt down in a vain attempt to be of some help, as he performed the last of his death throes.
As his body became limp, they knew that their efforts would have been in vain. The twin puncture marks on his neck, barely discernable in the light through the doorway, told the tale. His fate had been sealed the moment of the sinking of the viper’s fangs.
Gary rose and opening up his phone, dialed a number.
“Send for the local police,” he said into the microphone. “And have them bring a body bag. The suspect is dead.”
* * *
Monday evening, University Medical Center, Las Vegas
Ron’s Mercedes sedan came to an abrupt stop with one final screech of tires as he switched off the ignition and turned off the headlights. Unfastening the seat belts, and the latches that secured the doors, the men alighted from the vehicle and walked hurriedly toward the E.R. room doors. They were met at the door by an orderly, who escorted them to the admitting desk.
“Mr. Turner, Sir,” Ron was greeted with a smile. “Mr. McInerny called and we were expecting you.”
“Thank you,” Ron replied with an expression of concern. “How’s the patient?”
“He’ll be fine,” a voice from behind Ron said. Ron turned, finding the doctor who had treated Mitch from his fall into the Grand Canyon, months before.
“Thanks Doctor.” Ron said looking around. “This looks like a completely different operation from when we were here last.”
“Yes it is, compared to then,” the doctor said smiling. “Thanks to you this place now runs like a well made watch. It is a pleasure to work in a facility that is so efficient and well planned. The move of the x-ray and laboratory rooms next to the E.R. alone has saved precious minutes in treatment and a number of lives. We are able to start treatment based on knowledge of what’s going on much quicker, moving patients more rapidly to the areas where they can get the appropriate care. We have done it in the same space as before but are able to handle around 25% more patients, just due to efficiencies of the layout with the increase in staffing of only 10%.”
“I’m pleased,” Ron said smiling. “I’ll be sure to pass your compliments on to Jack Smith who worked on the project. Now, what can you tell us about the condition of Benny Young?”
“He’s been severely beaten, but his wounds are all superficial. Even though he is badly bruised, it doesn’t appear that he has suffered any internal injuries. We have run most of the diagnostic tests and the early reports are that he will be fine. We photographed the injuries, as they appear to be caused by child abuse. He’s in an observation unit nearby and is resting, though not asleep. It’s unusual, but I can arrange a visit for you, if you wish.”
“Yes, we’d like that very much,” Matt interjected. “If you don’t mind Ron, I could visit him while you take care of the admitting details. You can join us when you’re finished.”
“That will be fine, Matt. One last question doctor - when can he be released?”
“Unless the final tests show suspicious results, I believe that he could be released about midnight. We want to make sure that he has no lasting physical effects, but of course, how it effects him psychologically is another matter.”
“I can assure you that he will receive a thorough evaluation in that regard,” Ron said with conviction. “Matt and I believe that abuse of children begets abuse in future generations if untreated. It is our goal to stop that cycle whenever possible.”
“I agree with you wholeheartedly,” the doctor said. “I presume that you will assume custody?”
“Absolutely. We are properly licensed for foster care, and have special permission from the Child Welfare Agency to handle emergencies until, of course, the proper evaluation is made by the State.”
“Good,” the doctor said smiling. “I think the boy could now use some compassionate company. If you’ll take care of the admitting items, Ron, I’ll escort Matt to the Close Observation Unit.”
“See ya in a few, Matt,” Ron said as he turned toward the admitting desk.
“Okay Babe,” Matt rejoined.
Stepping to the desk, Ron was handed a sheaf of papers.
“We were able to fill out all of the necessary items from the ID of the patient and in talking to him,” the clerk said. “You just need to sign where the forms are marked.”
“Thanks. May I use that desk over there to look these over?” He asked pointing.
“Of course Mr. Turner. There is a tutorial on the computer on that desk. Even though you don’t have to fill in the items, as would be customary, if you would like, the tutorial will explain each of the forms and their meanings and implications. All you need to do is to pick up the mouse and move it. That action will start up the program.”
“Thanks again,” Ron said admiring the procedure. “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
* * *
“Hi” Matt said, smiling at the young boy stretched out on the hospital bed. “My name is Matt Davidson.”
“I’m Benny. Are you a doctor?” he asked.
“No, I’m a counselor.”
“Oh,” Benny responded. “What does a counselor do, and what are you doing here?”
“A counselor helps people, particularly young people. We came to see you and find out how you’re doing?”
“How did you know I was here?”
“The detective who brought you here is a friend of ours.”
“I thought he was a cop,” Benny said. “He didn’t have a uniform or nothin’ but when he was on the radio or phone, he talked like a cop. For a minute I thought he was gonna arrest me. After we drove around a while, and he talked a bunch on the phone, he really surprised me. He told me to get out and sit on a bench by the sidewalk and wait for someone to come get me. Pretty soon some guys came out of the hospital with a wheelchair and brought me in and the doctor patched me up after lookin’ me over. They did some x-ray stuff, took some blood out of my arm and made me pee in a little cup thing.”
“Did they take photographs?” Matt asked.
Benny began to cry. “Yeah,” he responded.
Matt moved close to the bedside and held the youngster’s hand.
“No one will hurt you again,” Matt said with a sympathetic smile. “I promise.”
“How can you keep my da…. uh…. anybody from doing that?”
“We can if you’ll help us,” Matt said gently.
“I’m not rattin’ on my dad. He’ll ki…uh … uh.” Benny had said more than he intended and he clamped his jaws tight.
“I assure you Benny,” Matt said looking straight into the youth’s eyes, “no one is going to hurt you again.”
“Yeah, but he knows people. I mean like cops and judges and stuff. He even knows the Governor! He can do anything he wants!”
“I will tell you again Benny. No one will hurt you. You have to believe me.”
The door opened and Ron came into the room, pulling up a chair next to Matt.
“Benny, this is my partner, Ron,” Matt said.
“Ron, this is Benny Young.”
Pleased to meet you, Sir,” Benny said.
“I’m happy to meet you too,” Ron said smiling. “Your name is familiar. Are you related to Senator Ben Young?”
“See!!!! I told ya!!! Everybody knows him,” Benny said in alarm.
Ron sized up the situation at once and said, “No, your father knows me!”
“Who are you?” Benny replied to the strange answer.
“I’m the most powerful man in Nevada…. when I want to be.”
“Wow, you’re more powerful than the Governor?” Benny’s eyes opened wide in surprise.
“Benny,” Ron said smiling, “Governors come and go, and if I don’t want ‘em to stay as Governor, they go away.”
“I don’t understand. They told us in school that we live in a Democracy,” Benny said. “How can you make ‘em go away?”
“Actually, this isn’t a real Democracy like the ancient Greeks had. We have what’s called a Republic. That means that we elect people to make laws for us. If we don’t like what they do, we don’t re-elect them. If they’re really bad, we can recall them. That means, we kick ‘em out of office.”
“Yeah, I guess that’s right. But how can you, by yourself, make ‘em go away.”
“Let’s just say that it takes a lot of money to get elected and more to stay elected. I have a lot of the stuff.”
“Filthy rich,” Ron said smiling.
“I bet my dad would like to know you!” Benny exclaimed. “He’s always going out at night, doing what he calls fund raising. I think that means he asks people for money.”
The boy’s eyes opened wide.
“That’s how he knows you!” Benny declared. “He asks you for money!’
“You do understand,” Ron said smiling
* * * * *.