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

The author reserves copyright privileges. This work may not be reproduced, except for private use without the consent of the author. Copyright 2004, John E. Tucker

Dedication: To those who love

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Chapter Thirty-eight

Friday Morning, 10 AM, University Medical Center.

Ron, Matt, Tyler and Dan stepped off of the elevator on the 4th floor of the Turner wing. Nearing the nurse’s station, the nurse at the desk looked up and smiled.

“Glad you’re here, gentlemen,” she said. “Your smaller friend has been ready for the last hour. He’s been driving us all nuts, coming out every 10 minutes since 8 o’clock to check on the time.”

Ron grinned.

“Then I guess I don’t have to ask if he’s ready,” Ron said

“You’re lucky that he’s not at the door downstairs,” laughed the nurse. “He would have been, if we’d have let him.”

“Is he in his room?”

“Yes he is now. He’s been visiting other people on the floor the last couple of days since he’s been ambulatory and he’s made a lot of friends.”

“That’s good to hear,” Matt interjected. “He’s had a rough time. Sometimes victims become withdrawn and morose when they’ve been through the trauma that he’s suffered.”

“I don’t think you have to worry about him being withdrawn,” the nurse chuckled. “He’s on a first name basis with half the floor. You may go in if you’d like. I have the discharge papers ready.”

“I’ll take care of those now,” Ron responded. “Once he sees us, I’m sure he’s going to be impatient to leave.”

“Here they are,” she said handing over the papers. “Mr. McInerny gave instructions that the bill is to be sent to you, so you can leave anytime you like now. I’ll call for the wheelchair, though you may have to tie Ronnie into it.”

“Maybe I’ll just have Tyler sit on his lap,” Ron said indicating his buff brother. He signed the papers and handed them back to the nurse, who was just hanging up the phone after calling for the chair. “We’ll go in to see Ronnie now. I spoke to the doctor yesterday, so we’re aware of how we’re to care for him.”

“Very well,” the nurse said taking the papers. “I see the wheelchair has arrived,” she said pointing to the orderly and wheelchair coming out of the elevator.

“Send it in right away,” Ron asked. “We’ll be leaving immediately.”

The nurse smiled again as Ron and his companions headed for Ronnie’s room. As they came near the open doorway, they saw a nurse pass the door and a voice call out, “Nurse! It’s gotta be 10 o’clock. Where are they?”

Ron laughed after she passed the men and she said in a raised voice, “I guess they couldn’t make it today!”

A small body came tearing out of the room. “Wha…” He saw the men just before he plowed into Ron, bouncing off his legs and falling back on his behind; Ron reached for him but missed.

“You’re injured!” Ron said barely stifling a grin. “Let me help you back into your bed while we get a doctor.”

“I don’t want no doctor,” Ronnie said quickly as he clumsily jumped to his feet. “I want outta here!”

The four men all laughed.

“Ok then, get into the wheelchair,” Ron ordered, indicating the approaching vehicle.

“I don’t need no wheelchair,” Ronnie said. “I can walk by myself.”

“Not if you want to get out of here,” Matt informed the youth. “Hospital rules.”

“Well … Ok then if I gotta,” Ronnie said after thinking about it quickly. “Uh, Ron and Matt,” he added. “Can we go say goodbye to my friend Jerry before we go?”

“Didn’t you have time to say goodbye already?” Matt asked.

“Sure, but I promised him that he could meet you.”

Matt looked at Ron and shrugged at this new development.

Ronnie climbed into the wheelchair, and pointed in the direction he wanted to go. The orderly pushed the chair toward an open door near the far end of the hallway. The four men followed behind.

“Hi Jer,” Ronnie said as the chair entered the room. “I brought ‘em like I said.”

The orderly pushed the chair toward a bed where a youngster lay quietly. The sallow face of the youth displayed a big grin.

“Guys,” Ronnie said. “This is my friend Jerry Smith. Jerry these guys are Ron and Matt. Behind them are Tyler and Dan. They’re my new family.”

“Pleased to meet ya,” the youth said politely, extending a thin arm attached to a small hand. “Is it true what Ronnie said?” he asked. “That you would help us?”

Ronnie looked embarrassed, “Uh, uh… I haven’t…”

“If we can,” Tyler interrupted.

“How can we help you?” Matt asked his voice full of kindness.

“I’m real sick and the doctor told my gramma that it was gonna be real ‘spensive for me to get well. My gramma is old and doesn’t have much money.”

“What kind of sickness do you have?” Ron asked.

“She told me it’s some kinda cancer of the blood,” Jerry said softly. “She said it was real hard to get over and ya gotta go away to some Anderson place to get it fixed. She was crying real bad when she told me. Then she said she would sell her little house to get the money for me to go. But she can’t do that! She’s poor and old and doesn’t have anywhere else to live.”

“Where are your parents?” Ron asked gently.

“They were in England about 5 years ago eating in a cafe,” Jerry answered. “There was a big explosion and they were killed. I’ve been living with my gramma ever since. After they died some nice people sent some money to help us but it’s about gone now. I was only 7 years old then, now I’m 12.”

“Jerry,” Tyler said. “Dan and I would like to help you. We’d like to meet your grandmother as soon as we can.”

“She should be here pretty soon,” Jerry said hopefully, “maybe you can stay and meet her.”

“We’ll stay,” Dan said taking Tyler’s hand. “Matt or Ron, could you ask someone from the house to bring down a car? That way you can take Ronnie home while we wait.”

“Sure Dan,” Ron answered. “If you’d like, we can wait with you.”

“Thanks for the offer but I think Ronnie would like to get to his new home,” Tyler responded. “If Jerry’s grandmother accepts our help, we’d like to meet his doctor too. If all goes well, we can bring Ronnie back with us tomorrow for a visit.”

“That will be fine,” agreed Ron. “I’ll call Parker and ask him to bring down your car right away. I’m sure it will be at least a half-hour though.”

“Ask him to wait for our call, if you would,” Tyler said. “We’ll call as soon as Jerry’s grandmother arrives. That will give us at least a half-hour or so to get acquainted.”

“Let us know if we can help too,” Matt offered.

“Thanks,” Tyler said gratefully, “but I think this is a project that Dan and I would like to take on ourselves.”

“Just know we’re here if you need us,” Ron added.

Jerry smiled gratefully at his friend Ronnie.

“You were right,” he said to his hospital friend, “they’re as nice as you said. Come back and see me, please.”

“I’ll come tomorrow with Tyler and Dan,” Ronnie promised. “I won’t forget you.”

“Thanks Ronnie,” Jerry said smiling. “You’re my best friend.”

“Bye for now,” Ronnie said taking Matt’s hand. “We gotta go.”

“Bye Jerry,” Ron and Matt both said as they followed their new ward toward the door.

“Just call Parker when you’re ready,” Ron said as they departed, “We’ll let him know to expect your call.”

                                    *                      *                      *

30 minutes later at Ron and Matt’s estate

The white Escalade with Ron driving slowed as the gates to the property swung open.

“Is this where we live?” Ronnie asked in wonder as the SUV rolled up the drive coming into view of the huge house perched on the hillside.

“Home sweet home,” Ron answered.

“Wow! This place is cool! I hope it’s hooked on good to the mountain.”

Matt laughed.

“We check it every day,” Ron kidded. “It wouldn’t do to have it fall down the hill.”

“I’ll help check if you show me where to look,” Ronnie said seriously.

Matt’s smile had turned into a laugh, joining Ron’s.

“He was just pulling your leg,” Matt responded.

“He better not pull the little one,” Ronnie said, understanding that Ron had been joking, and deciding to join in on the fun, “It’s only been grown up for a little while and I don’t want nothing to happen to it.”

Ron cracked up as he pulled to the bridge at the front entrance.

“We normally park in the garage around the side,” explained Ron, “but we thought you might like to see your new home the way guests do.”

“It’s super colossal!” Ronnie said enthusiastically. “It must take a lot of work to keep it so pretty. I hope you have some things that I can help with. I’m real handy.”

“I’m sure you’ll find plenty to do,” Matt said. “The pool needs lots of swimming, though that will be a little hard for you until your cast comes off. I know that for sure. I just got mine off two weeks ago.”

“You had a cast?” Ronnie asked as his eyes checked out the huge house above them.

After getting out of the car and approaching the footbridge to the front door, Matt replied, “Yes, I got hit by a flying object that broke my arm,” he continued, not wanting to go into the details of the bombing. “It’s all well now though, as yours will be too.”

“This place is sure big,” Ronnie said changing the subject as Dorothy, Parker and Mary appeared at the door.

“Parker, Dorothy, Mary, I’d like you to meet our new young man, Ronnie,” Ron said in introduction.

“Ronnie, these nice people are the ones who take care of our house and us. They are our friends too. They’ll also be here when we have to be away at work,” Matt explained.

“I’m pleased ta meet ya,” Ronnie said, extending his hand first to Parker, then the ladies.

“We’re happy that you’re with us,” Dorothy responded. “We’ll be here to help you with whatever you need.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Ronnie,” Parker added. “Please ask us for anything you want.”

“Right now, a sandwich would be good,” Ronnie responded.

Mary beamed. “Lunch will be served as soon as you’re settled.”

“I can make my own if you show me where the peanut butter and bread is.”

“I’m sure you’ll find out soon enough,” Ron interjected. “What’s planned for lunch, Mary?”

“Hamburgers and French-fries. I never met a boy that didn’t like that meal.”

“Yum!” Ronnie responded licking his chops and giving Mary a great smile.

Minutes later after a tour of the main floor, Ron, Matt, Ronnie and Parker approached the room that had been prepared for their new guest.

“Here’s your room,” Matt said opening the door with a brass sign attached that said “Ronnie’s Pad”. He held the door open and Ronnie stepped inside.

“Wow! This place is huge. Oh man! I got my own TV and computer and everything!” He said excitedly. “Look at that huge bed! I bet it could hold at least four of me. I even have my own bathroom? This is too neat!”

Parker opened a closet door, “In here is your hang-up wardrobe. You’re underwear and T-shirts and stockings are in the dresser. I’m sorry if the wardrobe is not complete, young sir. I thought you might want to go shopping with me and pick out some things that you particularly like.”

“I never had so many neat clothes,” Ronnie exclaimed. “And I get more?”

Parker gave him a big smile. This youth was going to be a pleasure.

“Parker will help you with all your clothing needs,” Matt explained. “He knows where all the good stores are.” Then in a soft voice he said to Ron, “and knows all the clerks on a first-name basis.”

Ron chuckled at the truth of the statement.

“I don’t know what to do first,” Ronnie said quickly roaming around his luxurious suite.

“How ‘bout we eat lunch first,” Ron suggested. “Then you might like to rest. You just got out of the hospital, you know. The doctor doesn’t want you to get too tired.”

“Ok Ron, I’ll lay down after lunch, but I’m not gonna sleep. This is all too exciting. Oh! I almost forgot. I need to ask you something.”

“Sure kiddo, ask away,” Matt answered.

“Well… Could I borrow a little money and maybe get somebody to take me to a store? I wanna get something for Jerry. It’s awfully boring in the hospital. I’ll work and pay you back.”

“Of course,” Ron told him. “It’s awfully nice of you to think of him.”

“He’s my bud,” Ronnie explained.

                                    *                      *                      *

UMC, about the same time

“I run a security company,” Tyler answered the question that Jerry had put to Tyler. “Dan runs an office here for a New York company that leases construction and mining equipment.”

“What does a security company do?” Jerry asked.

“We do several things; we have a private investigator license,” he answered, “and also we provide security for people both with live guards and with electronic equipment.”

“Do you have a gun?” Jerry questioned, his eyes opened wide.

“Yes, I’m licensed and qualified for many kinds of firearms,” Tyler answered. “It’s a necessary part of the job.”

“Did you ever shoot anybody?” the youth continued with his questioning.

“Yes, but I’ve never killed anyone. I would if I had to in order to protect a client, but if there is time, it’s best to get the client away, or if that’s not possible, to stop an assailant, preferably without firearms.”

“You mean like beat ‘em up?”

“We call it self defense,” Tyler said smiling.

“You must be tough,” Jerry said in admiration.

“I’m well trained and keep in shape,” answered Tyler. “Most of the time that’s enough to make an attacker think twice.”

“You’re so brave!” Jerry declared.

Tyler hesitated before speaking.

“I’m no more brave than you need to be. You’ve got a difficult time ahead and you will need to be brave through it all.”

“I’m kinda scared,” Jerry admitted.

“We know,” Dan said taking Jerry’s hand. “It’s ok to be scared. Just remember that your grandmother and we are here to protect you and provide for you as best we can.”

“I don’t want to be a baby,” Jerry whimpered as tears began to flow.

“You aren’t a baby,” Tyler reassured him. “All real men cry. Those that say they don’t are either liars or are putting on an act. Some don’t cry much, but it’s usually because they think that it’s a sign of weakness. It’s wrong to think that. It’s far better to let your feelings out. That’s why God gave us tears.”

At that moment an elderly lady with a cane appeared at the door.

“And who might you be?” she inquired of the two handsome men, one of whom was holding the hand of her weeping grandson.

“Gramma,” Jerry said recovering quickly from his tears. “These are Ronnie’s friends. They’re gonna help us.”

Tyler and Dan stood and turned to the older woman. Tyler extended his hand.

“Ma’am,” Tyler began. “My name is Tyler Turner, and this is Dan Barnes. You’re grandson is correct on all counts.”

“Mr. Turner, Mr. Barnes, I’m Emma Thorsruud,” the woman said with a suspicious nod and a grasp of each man’s hand with her own frail one.

“I guess the question at hand is why do you want to help my grandson?” She asked bluntly.

Tyler hesitated a moment before speaking.

“In the early days of our country, in fact until not many years ago,” Tyler began, “there was little insurance to take care of emergencies and disasters. People helped people. First, there was help from families. Then there was help from the neighbors. That help was returned in kind. In these later times, many people hardly know their neighbors, and families often neglect their own. As our country has become affluent, the insurance companies and to a small extent, the government, have taken over those responsibilities.Yet not everyone can afford insurance to cover catastrophic occurrences, nor does the government have sufficient money to provide for needed care.”

“I, my brother Ron Turner and our partners, have been fortunate in our lives in becoming wealthy. We have set up a foundation to help people like your grandson. We became aware of his illness through a young man, his friend Ronnie. Ronnie thought that we could help and that’s why we’re here.”

“It seems too good to be true,” the old lady said. “Do you mind if I sit?”

“Please,” Dan said offering his chair next to Jerry.

The old woman moved slowly, and with obvious discomfort, to the chair before lowering herself onto the padded cushion.

Dan stepped into the hallway to retrieve another chair as Tyler sat down facing the woman.

“How long has Jerry had his condition,” Tyler asked.

“He’d been feeling poorly for a couple of weeks and not getting better. We couldn’t afford to go running to the doctor for every sniffle, but when he didn’t get better, I took him on Friday of last week. The doctor said that he needed some tests, so we went to a lab on Monday. On Tuesday, he called and said we needed to come in right away. That’s when he told us that he believes Jerry has leukemia. He said Jerry needed to come to the hospital right away for further tests. I brought him in on Wednesday, and they began the testing. On Friday he confirmed his diagnosis and said that while the condition was possibly curable, if we delayed it would be fatal. He recommended that we send Jerry to the M.D. Anderson hospital in Houston. He also said that the treatment could amount to $100,000 and probably a lot more, but that if we were needy there might be a little help with the finances. I have an appointment with a real estate person this afternoon. I’ve decided to sell my house to raise what we can.”

“Where will you live if you sell it?” Ron asked.

“I don’t know,” the old lady answered as tears came to her eyes. “It doesn’t matter. I just can’t let my Jerry go without a fight.”

Dan reappeared with another chair, placed it next to Tyler, and then sat.

“I’d like you to cancel you’re appointment with the realtor,” Tyler said with sincerity. “Our foundation will pay all the costs. In the short time we’ve known Jerry, we quickly came to the agreement that he needs every chance for recovery and that he could use our help. Our expert analyst told us so, but we needed to make sure, for ourselves.”

“What’s an expert anamist?” Jerry asked, joining in the conversation.

“It’s analyst Jerry,” Tyler said smilingly correcting the mispronunciation. “It’s a person who studies a situation and then tells us what he thinks we should do.”

“Who is your ana….ana…. you know, the guy who tells you what to do?” Jerry asked.

“His name is Ronnie,” Tyler replied.

Jerry grinned.

“Now Mrs. Thorsruud, we’d like to see Jerry’s doctor,” Tyler said. “We’ve got plans to make.”

                                    *                      *                      *

One PM, Ron and Matt’s estate.

Ron stood on the balcony watching Tyler’s car approach up the drive. At the fork in the road, the car swung onto the side drive, heading for the garage at the back and side of the main residence. Ron looked out over the Las Vegas valley marveling at the beautiful springtime weather. He knew it wouldn’t last, and would soon start to get hot, but that didn’t disappoint Ron; he liked the desert heat. After another moment, he turned to go into the house where Tyler, Dan and Parker were just entering though the garage entry.

“Hi Guys,” Ron said in greeting. “How was your meeting with Jerry’s grandmother?”

“It went fine,” Tyler answered. “Mrs. Thorsruud, Jerry’s grandmother, is a sweet old lady. She was a bit defensive at first, wanting to know who we were and all, but in the end was grateful for our help. We also got to meet his doctor. When we told him about covering all of the expenses for the treatment at M.D. Anderson, he got on the phone immediately, and arranged for Jerry to be admitted Monday. Since my plans are to go with Gary Franklin to Atlanta on Monday anyway to work on the acquisition, I thought we could take Jerry and his grandmother with us and get them settled in Houston.”

“Are you taking the G-V?” Ron asked.

“Yes. It wasn’t scheduled for anything else. It also will give us an impressive presence in Atlanta. We’ll go back to see Jerry again in the morning and of course, we’ll take Ronnie with us.”

“Matt and I may tag along too,” Ron said.

“The more the merrier, bro,” Tyler said smiling. “Speaking of the little devil, where is he?”

“He’s up in his room taking a short nap; then he’ll be getting ready to go shopping with Parker and Matt.”

“Matt’s going shopping?” Dan asked with incredulity. “He hates to shop.”

“No more than me,” Ron replied. “He drew the short straw.”

“What’s he shopping for?” Dan inquired.

“It seems that Ronnie wants to buy a present for Jerry to keep him from getting too bored in the hospital.”

“What a sweet kid,” Tyler commented. “I think you’ve got a keeper.”

“Maybe so. Matt and I have begun talking about it anyway.”

“If it wasn’t for his grandmother being alive, I’d be very tempted to take Jerry,” Dan said.

“I’m with you there, Babe,” Tyler agreed.

“You might discuss it privately with his grandmother,” Ron suggested. “If she’s gets too old or becomes sufficiently ill to care for him, it might be a great relief for her to know that you two are willing to provide a home for him if she can’t.”

“We’ll do that,” Dan happily responded.

“What are you going to do next week Dan, when Tyler is gone?” Ron asked.

“As you know we have three staffers from New York that moved here last week. Two are in sales, one will manage the office activities, and of course, I have my secretary already here who knows what we’re doing. Until our sales efforts begin to pan out, there isn’t a lot for me to do. Of course I’ll do some selling too until we get busier, but I’ve decided to take part of next week off and go to Houston to get Emma and Jerry settled. If Tyler comes back early, he’ll pick me up. Otherwise, I’ll fly back commercial on Wednesday or Thursday. I do want to make some business contacts while I’m there. There is a lot of construction activity in the Houston market. If I run into any good leads I may stay for the whole week. We’ve got to coordinate with the Taliesin guys too.”

“You might want to meet with Mr. Peterson as soon as you can,” Ron suggested, “The trust will cover all Jerry’s expenses at M.D. Anderson.”

“We’ll have to do that either by phone or when we get back,” Tyler commented. “In the meantime, we’ll cover all the up-front costs ourselves.”

“Sounds like you’ve really made your commitment,” Ron observed.

“Just like your commitment to Ronnie,” Dan responded.

“Touché,” Ron said with an understanding smile.

At that moment Matt descended the grand stairway to the second floor.

“Hi guys,” he said smiling. “How was your visit with Jerry’s grandma?”

“It was good,” Dan said. “We just gave Ron all the details so he can fill you in later.”

“I like it when he fills me in,” Matt quipped.

“I know the feeling,” Dan responded with a grin.

“You been doing something with Dan, Ron?” Matt asked with an accusatory look. Then he winked and smiled.

“Nothing that Tyler wouldn’t approve of, Sweet Pea. You know that.”

“I’m just pullin’ your leg babe.”

“Don’t pull the little one, right now,” Ron responded with a paraphrase of Ronnie’s earlier answer. “It’ll make it grow, and I might get embarrassed in front of God and all these people.”

The entire group laughed, while the phone began to ring in the other room. A moment later Parker emerged from the kitchen with the ‘walk-around’ phone in his hand.

“It’s for you Ron,” he said as he handed the receiver to his employer/friend. “It’s a Mr. Wes Harper.”

Ron took the phone and placed it to his ear.

“Hi Wes,” Ron said into the mouthpiece, “What can I do for you?”

Ron listened and a worried look appeared on his face.

“Yes, I’ll be in first thing Monday morning. Let’s meet at 9 AM in my office. Thanks for calling. Goodbye.”

“What’s wrong Ron?” Matt asked.

“It looks like the Senator is making his move,” Ron replied.

                              *   *   *   *   *   *