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 too young, please exit now.

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

Dedication: To the youth of our land. They are the hope for a future of love and understanding.

If you’d like to comment or just say hi, my address is .


Chapter Thirty-nine

Sunday Morning, University Medical Center

Tyler, Dan and Ronnie approached the nurse’s desk on the fourth floor of the hospital where Jerry, Ronnie’s friend, was staying. Jerry’s doctor was at the desk talking to the floor nurse as they stepped to the counter.

“Good morning gentlemen,” the doctor said as he recognized Tyler and Dan from their meeting the day before. “I’m glad you’re here. I’m releasing Jerry this morning for his trip to Houston. I think it’s wonderful that you’re helping him.”

“Good morning Dr. Goodman,” Tyler replied. “I’m glad to see you too. By the way, we’d like to pick up the cost of Jerry’s tests, treatment and stay here at UMC. Here is my card. If you’d ask the business office to send the bill directly to my office, it will be paid in full without delay. If necessary, Paul McInerny will authorize the change.”

“You know Mr. McInerny?” the doctor asked.

“Yes, he is a good friend of my brother, Ron Turner,” Tyler replied.

“Oh! You mean the Ron Turner, like in the Turner wing of this hospital, where we’re standing now?”

“The same,” Tyler said smiling.

“I’m sure your request will not be a problem,” Dr. Goodman responded.

“I specifically do not want the billing to be sent to Mrs. Thorsruud. She has enough concerns with Jerry without having to be worried about the costs of his treatment.”

“You may consider the request taken care of,” the doctor promised, “I’ll see to it personally.”

During this last bit of conversation, the floor nurse who had been listening pulled the patient file and was busy scribbling a note of instructions on a form. As the doctor finished speaking she handed the form to the doctor who looked it over, signed it, then handed the form back to her along with Tyler’s card. She copied the needed information from the card on the form, then stapled the card to the form before punching holes in the top of the form and adding it to the file.

“Mission accomplished,” the doctor said smiling.

“Thank you very much Dr. Goodman and nurse,” Tyler said, returning the smile. “We’re ready to see Jerry now.”

“Thank you Mr. Turner. It’s good to see you, Mr. Barnes and this young fellow here,” he said tousling Ronnie’s hair.”

Ronnie wasn’t pleased about that, but he didn’t say anything. He wanted to see Jerry and started down the hallway, leaving Tyler and Dan in his wake.

“Hi Bud!” he said grinning as he entered the room.

Jerry was dressed and sitting on a chair watching TV when he heard Ronnie’s voice. A large grin appeared on his face as he stood, closed the distance separating him from his friend, and gave a hug to the boy who had made the future bearable.”

“Hi Ronnie,” he said, “I’m glad you came. I was afraid we might miss you. The doctor said I could go home until we leave tomorrow for Houston. I wish you were coming with us.”

“I brought you something,” Ronnie said pressing a fairly small box into Jerry’s hands.

Jerry looked at the colorfully wrapped box and wondered, “Thanks Ronnie. What is it?”

“It’s a present for when you’re in the hospital. Open it and see.”

Jerry tore off the paper and saw on the box a picture of a piece of small electronic equipment with a screen.

“What is it?” Jerry asked again as he began opening the box.

“It’s a pocket PC. You can hook it up to the phone lines and we can chat over the Internet.”

“Way cool,” Jerry said excitedly.

“Yeah, Dan said he would show you how to use it and make sure it works. That way we can keep in touch when you’re in Houston. We got some games for it too, so if I’m not around you don’t get bored.”

“Man I don’t know how to thank you,” Jerry said earnestly.

“I’d settle for another hug,” Ronnie suggested.

“That’s easy,” Jerry said hugging his friend. “I’m still gonna miss you though.”

“Maybe we could spend some of the day together, if your gramma will let you. You could come up to our house. You won’t believe the place. It’s like a palace! I’ve never been in a place so piss-elegant! I even have a computer in my room so we can chat.”

Tyler and Dan appeared just in time to hear the invitation. They both grinned at the description of Ron and Matt’s home.

“It might be nice to ask Ron and Matt if it’s alright,” Tyler suggested as he and Dan joined the youths.

“Oh yeah,” Ronnie said sheepishly. “Sorry.”

“Use my phone,” Tyler offered as he opened the phone, punched in the number of the house, and then handed the device to the youngster.

“Hi Parker,” Ronnie giggled. “Is Mr. Ron or Mr. Matt there?”

There was a pause before he continued.

“Hi Ron, this is Ronnie…”

“Ronnie Turner, silly,” he said with another giggle. “Hey, I’m here at the hospital with Jerry. The doctor is gonna let him go home, and I wondered if I could invite him over?”…

“I don’t know, his gramma isn’t here yet, but she should be along any minute. I know Tyler and Dan would like it too.”

His grin got bigger, as he listened and nodded ‘yes’ to his friend.

“Thanks Ron, and thank Matt for me too. You guys are the best dads a guy ever had. I’ll call you again when we know if it’s all right with his gramma. Bye.”

He handed the phone back to Tyler, saying, “I knew it would be alright.”

Tyler smiled and said, “But some day it might not be, then you’d be embarrassed. My advice is to ask first.”

“I’ll remember that,” Ronnie promised as he rushed over to his friend, and returned the hug he’d received earlier. “I told ya so,” he whispered in Jerry’s ear.

Emma Thorsruud, Jerry’s grandmother appeared at the door during the exchange.

“What’s going on here?” She said with a scowl, then winked as a huge smile appeared on her face.

“’Morning, Mrs. Thorsruud,” Dan and Tyler both said at once.

“Hi Gramma,” Jerry and Ronnie both echoed.

Her smile grew even bigger as she realized that she’d been ‘adopted’ by Ronnie.

“Boys,” she said looking at Tyler and Dan, “I think it’s time you either call me Mom or Emma. Looks like we’re gonna get to know each other real good and I never was much for that formal stuff.”

The older men looked at each other, then broke out into smiles.

“Sure Mom,” Tyler said. “Anything you say.”

“Doctor Goodman said you could go home,” she said addressing her grandson, “but I guess you know that, ‘cause you’re all dressed.”

“Yeah, and you know what, Gramma?”

“What?” she replied getting used to pleasant surprises.

“Ronnie has invited me over to his house today.”

“Actually,” Tyler interjected, “We’d like to invite you both over for lunch, then you can go home if you want and pack for the trip. We can bring Jerry home later, if he’s allowed to stay.”

“That’s mighty kind of you, but it’s too much of an imposition after all you’re doing for us.”

“Nonsense,” Dan said. “It would be good to take a little time to enjoy some of our famous hospitality, and to let the boys have at least the day to enjoy what little time they have together before the trip.”

Knowing that it might be the last time the boys would ever see each other, Emma relented.

“I still think it’s an imposition, but we’ll accept,” she said gratefully.

The boys jumped up and down, hugging each other in happiness.

“Well, if we’re going to do it, we’d better get on with it,” she said, appearing a bit grumpy, but with a twinkle in her eye. “How do we get there?”

“I’ve an idea,” Dan suggested. “Why don’t you and Jerry ride with Tyler and Ronnie and I’ll drive your car. That way you won’t get lost.”

“I’ve got a better idea,” she responded. “The boys can ride with Tyler, and I’ll ride with you in ‘old girl’. She’s rather balky and I know just how to urge her along if she gets persnickety. Besides, it would give us time to get to know each other, son.”

“Ok, Mom,” Dan agreed with the old lady.

The boys giggled at the exchange between the grownups.

“As I said before, time’s awastin’. Let’s get this young man out of this dump. Grab your stuff Jer, and let’s jet,” the old woman said, getting in the last word.

Tyler couldn’t help but laugh at his new ‘adopted’ mother.

                                     *                      *                      *

30 minutes later, Ron and Matt’s estate

“Hiya Uncle Ron! Hiya Uncle Matt,” Jerry said in a greeting full of youthful exuberance.

“Uncle Ron?” Ron asked.

“Yeah. See, you are kinda like Ronnie’s Dads, and Tyler and Dan are kinda like mine. You and Tyler are brothers. That makes you my uncle!”

“It makes sense,” Ron admitted laughing, “Though it’s a bit of a shock. Hi Mrs. Thorsruud. Welcome to our home.”

“Thank you, but please call me Emma or Mom,” Emma directed. “I love your house. It’s like a fairy castle.”

“I guess you could say that,” Ron said grinning.

Matt who stood by Ron could hardly keep from erupting in uncontrolled laughter.

“I thought this was a luxury resort hotel, when we first drove up. I hope ‘Old Girl’ doesn’t’ depreciate your property values.”

“I’m sure your presence does nothing but make the atmosphere fresher,” Matt said reassuringly.

“ ‘Old Girl’ is Mom’s car,” Dan explained.

“Oops!” Matt said in embarrassment, his face turning bright red.

Emma roared in laughter and slapped her thigh at Matt’s obvious discomfort.

“Don’t you be worried about that, son,” Emma said after her laughter died down. “I been called worse than that! I’m just glad I didn’t name my car ‘bitch’.”

Matt, with a still red face joined the others in laughing, not only at his gaff, but Emma’s joke making light of the whole thing.

“Gramma? Can I go with Ronnie? He wants to show me the house and his room.”

“Sure boys, have a good time,” Emma answered.

“Come into the family room,” Ron invited the older lady. “We’d like to talk with you.”

“Thank you Ron. Is it about Tyler and Dan being guardians of Jerry?”

“That is one thing,” Ron answered in surprise.

“Well, I think it’s a fine idea,” Emma said firmly. “I’m nearly 80 and my health is not good. There is no family left and honestly, I’ve been worried that I might not last to see Jerry grown up. Just in case you’re wondering, Dan brought up the subject in the car on the way here.”

“I can have my personal attorney draw up the papers, if you’d like,” Ron offered.

“That would be nice. If I could talk with him on the phone from Houston, he could update my will at the same time. I have a copy that I’ll mail him, if you’ll give me his address.”

Ron removed a card from his wallet and handed it to Emma.

“I’ll call him tomorrow and let him know to expect it,” Ron said. “Tyler and Dan will take care of his fee.”

“You boys are sure taking a load off my mind,” Emma said gratefully as she sat down on the sofa in the family room. “Do all four of you men live here?” she asked. “I mean, it’s plenty big enough, but I was just curious.”

“Ron and I live in the ‘main house’,” Matt explained. “Tyler and Dan live in the guest house until their house, which will be next door, is constructed.”

“Maybe this is too personal boys, but I gotta ask,” Emma said haltingly. “Would I be wrong if I guessed that you boys are gay, and that you are all partners?”

“You’re very astute, Mom,” Ron said. “You hit the proverbial nail on the head. How did you figure it out?” He asked grinning.

“Oh, Moms know these things,” She said matter-of-factly. “Just like I think that Jerry might be gay too.”

Everyone looked surprised at her statement.

“He’s probably a bit young to know yet,” Matt offered.

“Maybe so,” Emma agreed.

“The offer is still good, no matter his sexual preference,” Tyler added. “We believe that you are born with your preference and that environment has little to do with what you are, only how you handle it.”

“You boys seem to handle it real well,” Emma said smiling. “I hope Ronnie and Jerry can handle it as well.”

“You think Ronnie is gay too?” Matt asked.

“I’d bet on it, as they say here in Las Vegas,” Emma responded. “I don’t envy any of you being gay,” she added. “Much of the world has not made up its mind yet for gay acceptance.”

“You’re right about that,” Ron admitted. “Nevertheless, while we don’t flaunt our sexuality, we don’t hide it either. We protect each other and those we love.”

“You can’t ask for better than that,” Emma agreed. “As for me, you’ll never have a problem. I had a brother who was gay. When he was 15 he was discovered by a bunch of hooligans kissing another boy. Both were beaten badly and my brother was murdered. The other boy survived but was maimed for life. I was the only one in the family that knew my brother was gay, yet I loved him with all my heart. I was devastated when he was killed.”

“What happened to the boys that attacked them,” Matt asked.

“It was a long time ago,” Emma prefaced her answer, “and it was in the country. Those boys got off with involuntary manslaughter and were given a 5-year sentence. They were out of jail within two years. It took me years to get over the injustice of it all.”

“Things are better now,” Matt observed, “but gay people still face danger.”

“It’s one important reason I gladly give my consent for Tyler and Dan to raise Jerry. If something happens to me and he survives his coming ordeal, he’s going to need help and protection, even in today’s world.”

“He’ll have that from us, even if you both live to be 100,” Tyler said earnestly.

“Thank you Tyler. I know you mean it and I know Dan feels the same way. I can go to my rest comforted.”

“You’re far from being ready to ‘rest’,” Dan said smiling. “Boys need their grammas.”

“And growing boys need their lunch,” Ron said changing the subject. “I’ll go see when we’re going to eat.”

Before he could rise from his chair, Mary entered from the kitchen and announced that lunch was ready to serve.

“Ron, if you and Matt would escort Mom to the table,” Tyler suggested, “Dan and I will hunt down the boys.”

“I’d look in the kitchen first,” Emma recommended. “If I know boys, the smell of food will draw them like flies.”

                                     *                      *                      *

Sunday 1:40 PM, The Thornton Center

Ron and Matt arrived at Thornton for the ceremony honoring Barry Young 20 minutes before it was scheduled to begin. They had left Dan, Tyler and Ronnie to play host to Emma and Jerry as soon as lunch was over. Stopping to pick up Gary Franklin, the ‘almost lover’ of Barry before his tragic death, the occasion created the feel of sadness in the car as they drove to the home for boys, remembering the young man who was their friend.

Looking across the lawn past the Administration Building, they saw several rows of chairs on the grass facing the Activity Building. On a raised platform, facing these chairs was a podium behind which was a single row of chairs facing away from the building. Entering the Administration building they walked to Leonard’s office, where the open door revealed several people inside.

“Come in gentlemen,” they heard Leonard say.

They entered the room, finding Leonard and his wife; Francis Peale, Leonard’s secretary, Anna Rice, Director of the City’s homeless shelter, and Jessie Fox, Ron’s past boyfriend who was now Barry Young’s replacement as the Activities Director of the Thornton Center.

Ron introduced Gary Franklin as Barry’s special friend to those in the room who had not as yet met him. When they approached Jessie, more than a glimmer of interest showed in Jessie’s eyes. Neither Ron nor Matt missed the look, glancing at Gary to see if it was returned. Gary seemed unaware of either Jessie’s interest or their observing the greeting.

“It’s nearing the time for the ceremony folks,” Leonard announced. “I will make a few introductory remarks, then turn the presentation over to Ron and Matt. Afterward there will be refreshments served in the Activity Building. If you’ll please take your places in the chairs behind the podium, we can begin.”

The people in the room began filing out of the Director’s office and headed for the Activity Building where the guests, youths and house parents were now seated facing the podium. Once everyone was seated, Leonard rose from his chair and stepped to the lectern.

“Welcome honored guests, staff and residents to this short presentation honoring Barry Young, our first Activities Director who gave his life trying to protect our youths. Even though our facility is quite new, we are quickly establishing traditions and pride in our home. There are a few of you who are new to our facility that never had the pleasure of knowing the young man we honor today. I can only say that it’s your loss. Those of us who knew and worked with him, knew him as a fine example of manhood and deep caring for others. On the platform with me today, from your left to right are our special guests. First is Anna Rice, Director of the City’s homeless shelter, next is Ron Turner who will shortly be making our presentation. Next to Ron is Matt Davidson, our first Counselor and a member of our Board of Directors. Mr. Gary Franklin, Barry Young’s best friend and a former FBI agent is seated next to my wife, whom you all have met on many occasions. Now without further ado, I’d like to ask Ron Turner, the founder of the Thornton Center to make the presentation.”

The attendees gave Leonard a round of applause and he resumed his seat.

Ron rose and walked to the lectern.

“Thank you Leonard,” Ron began. “The Thornton Center was founded on tragedy. First was the namesake of this wonderful facility, Ted Thornton who was killed in a gay bashing incident, and in whose memory a trust was created that ultimately resulted in the campus that we see here today. Now we come to honor a young man who served as our Activity Director from the day we opened the Center. He was a beautiful man. He gave his life trying to prevent one of our students from being kidnapped. Even though I considered him a friend I’d like to turn the podium over to Matt Davidson, my partner, who worked with the man we honor today, Barry Young.”

Ron returned to his chair as Matt stood while the audience clapped.

“My heart is heavy today, thinking of our loss upon Barry Young’s death. I knew him for the fine person and the great friend he was toward us all. If there is a man worth emulating, Barry Young was that man. I speak now to our residents. Many of you came to us from difficult circumstances and backgrounds. Barry himself suffered some of the same difficulties in growing up to become the man we knew. Yet he overcame the trauma of his early life, not allowing the shadow of the past to cloud his attitude or purpose. When you have difficulties or trials, I’d like you to think of Barry and not let those travails drag you down into depression or foolish acts. The staff of Thornton, from Leonard Johnson, to your house parents, and including those who work at some of the more mundane tasks here to keep this facility operating, are all here for one purpose. It is for you that this place exists. It is here to provide an atmosphere for learning and growing. When you have problems or concerns, we are here to help. It is in that spirit that Barry gave his life. Don’t let his death be in vain. Make your life something to be proud of. Barry will smile from his place beyond death. Thank you.”

Ron again took the stand as Matt returned to he seat.

“There is little we can do to properly express our appreciation and love for Barry Young,” Ron said. “That which we do is merely a token of our gratitude for his service. Now, as authorized by the Board of Directors, I dedicate the building you see before you, our activity building, as the Barry Young Memorial Activity Building. In his honor I present this statue and plaque so that we can remember the person of Barry Young, our friend. Please join me near the entrance of the building.”

Ron stepped off the platform, accompanied by the others seated behind him and stood in a semi-circle behind a large draped object. The audience gathered facing the special guests. After a nod from Ron, Gary Franklin pulled on a thin cord and the drape fell away, revealing a life-size statute of Barry Young, dressed in the athletic clothing that was his everyday attire. Several of the younger early residents had tears in their eyes and even the older boys’ throats were constricted with emotion.

“Now, we’d like you to join us for some refreshments inside,” Leonard announced. The circle around the statue began to disburse. The door opened into the building, and the crowd entered for a short time of exchanging conversation, and refreshment.

Ron, Matt and Gary, along with Jessie Fox, circulated among the guests and students, greeting friends such as their friend and Board member Ken Friday; Cody Desmond, Thornton’s first resident, Benny Young, who Dan Young had died trying to save, as well as many other of their acquaintances. After 45 minutes of these exchanges, the three who had arrived together found Leonard and announced their departure. Leonard thanked them for their participation as he and Jessie said goodbye.

 Monday morning, 7 A.M., McCarran Airport, Las Vegas.

Ron, Matt, Tyler, Dan, Gary Franklin, Emma and the two boys stood in the lobby of the executive terminal as the travelers, Tyler, Dan, Gary, Emma and Jerry received the signal from inside the hangar that the G-V was ready for their boarding.

“We’d better get on,” Tyler announced.

“I want hugs before you leave,” Ron demanded.

The next few minutes were spent in last minute words and hugs between those departing and those remaining. Jerry and Ronnie waited until last to exchange hugs.

“I love you,” Jerry said with tears in his eyes.

“I love you too,” Ronnie answered. “Get well so you can come back to me.”

“I’ll give it everything I’ve got,” Jerry said as he planted a quick kiss on the lips of his friend.

Ronnie stepped back in shock, then smiled and returned the kiss.

“Bye, my friend,” Jerry said tearfully.

“Bye, my friend,” Ronnie repeated as Jerry moved toward the hanger door.

As Ron, Matt and Ronnie watched the passengers disappear into the bowels of the large corporate jet, Ronnie asked, “Dad? Can a boy my age be in love?”

Ron and Matt looked at each other and smiled before answering together, “Yep.”

                                     *                      *                      *

Ron’s office at the RET building. Monday morning, 10 A.M.

 Ron and Matt sat drinking coffee waiting for the arrival of Wes Harper. Only the activity over the weekend with Ronnie and Jerry had kept the men’s minds from dwelling on what only promised to be bad news.

The intercom announced his arrival and a few seconds later the door swung open and the Manager of Aztec-Turner Security’s Las Vegas office entered.

“Come in Wes,” Ron invited. “Can I get you some coffee?”

“Yes please, black,” their friend answered.

“Join Matt in the conversation area and I’ll have it for you in a jiffy,” Ron suggested.

“Thanks Ron,” Wes said as he joined Matt.

“How do you like living in Las Vegas?” Matt asked as Wes sat down in one of the overstuffed chairs.

“It’s great!” Wes answered. “I love the job, and we’ve moved into a very nice house in the Summerlin area. It’s much nicer and yet less costly than the one we had in L.A. We are able to put the kids in private school too. I hope you don’t think we’re elitists, but our daughter Margery has a learning disorder that requires special attention.”

“You do what you need to do,” Ron commented as he set Wes’ coffee on the side table next to his chair.

“Thanks Ron. I know you are a supporter of public schools.”

“I have my reasons,” Ron said in agreement. “It’s just that a quality education should be available to all. You can’t opt out of the system, but should be concerned enough to improve it. Your case is different. It’s a serious challenge for public schools to give special attention to those who need it. It’s not worth sacrificing your child’s education for the sake of principle. Now, let’s talk about our nemesis, the Senator.”

“I hope I’m not being an alarmist, but we’ve been following the activities of Senator Young ever since the kidnapping attempt of his son Benny from Thornton.”

“I think you’ve made the right call there Wes,” Ron commented. “Though I’ve left those details to you and Tyler.”

“I’m sorry that Tyler couldn’t be here for this meeting,” Wes replied.

“Yes, but be that as it may, I hope you know that Matt and I, as well as Tyler, have utmost confidence in your ability.”

“Thank you Sir, I’m trying to live up to your expectations. But back to the Senator: as I was saying, we’ve kept a tight watch on the Senator especially after he got out of jail on bond. We’ve done a few things that are, shall we say, less than legal to keep a close eye on him. He’s had some very curious visitors, and phone calls to persons who proved to be less than reputable as well as others of substantial political stature. It appears that he’s trying to mend his reputation and pull political strings, while planning something rather diabolical through some ‘low life’ contacts.”

“What do you know so far?” Ron asked.

“We know that he’s called in every political marker he has, including some with the judiciary. At first his calls were largely rebuffed because of the bad publicity, but of late he seems to be making some serious headway in his quest to avoid the charges, and retain his State Senate seat. The net result is that we are collecting a dossier on several important politicians. As I said earlier, most of the evidence was illegally obtained or at least obtained in a way that is not admissible in court, so we can’t rely on that. However, we have enough leads to put several people with a high political profile in jail. We have assigned two additional people just to follow up on those leads. If the fight becomes one of dog-eat-dog, we want to have the biggest teeth.”

“I’m sure that’s wise. I can only believe that your people are trustworthy and are extremely careful, especially in conducting ‘shady’ operations,” Ron said. “If we get in a fight, I don’t want to have dirty hands.”

“We are taking the utmost care. Senator Young is being very crafty though, so we’re having to work pretty hard to discover what he ‘has’ on his political cronies,” Wes reported.

“All of what you’ve reported so far is pretty much what we expected Young to do,” Ron said. “What makes you think he’s about to do something now that falls out of the pattern?”

“A couple of things. First, it’s nearing the time for his trial, at least the preliminaries. If he doesn’t quash the trial, the second thing comes into play: the election. He’s up for re-election, and if he has any chance of making a run for office again, he’s got to make a move soon. Lastly, I told you earlier that he’s had contact with some pretty shady people. At least three that we’ve identified are suspected assassins. The peculiar thing is that they have different specialties. It leads us to believe that this attempt may be multi-faceted and may be directed to more than just you personally, though we’re pretty sure you’re a principal target, Ron.”

“Wow!” Ron responded, “It’s looking pretty serious. What are we doing for counter-measures?”

“I told you that we have several people just working on the investigation side. With the two new ones, our investigation unit now numbers eight people, and that’s in addition to a couple of agents from the FBI and a couple more from Metro who are assigned to the case, and with whom we trade information. On the security side, we now have over twenty people assigned to you and your family, giving you ‘round the clock security. At the moment, there are probably not more than a dozen people in the whole country that are better protected, and almost all of them are in government. You also have additional security at your home with 8 people assigned. And 4 assigned to your office. We may have to augment those locations, as well as your aircraft and other places you frequent.”

“Do you believe that the principal purpose is to eliminate Tyler and me?”

“Yes, but there is a good possibility that it could include Matt and Dan too, and now, possibly Ronnie. There is also a possibility of a lot of property damage.”

“I hope you know that cost is no object in stopping the attempt,” Ron said.

“Tyler gave us unlimited funding when we briefed him this last week.”

“He was aware of all of this?” Matt asked. “I wonder why he didn’t say anything?”

“His evaluation of the situation at that time, was that it would be a couple of weeks away from being a possibility. He didn’t want to wave a red-flag prematurely.”

“Why did he think that?” Ron asked.

“Most assassins have two rules: ‘Be successful, and don’t get caught.’ This is of course, not counting suicide bombers and terrorist fanatics. None of these guys qualify as fanatics. To them it is a business, and they want to live to spend the money. That means they have to plan carefully. All of them are fairly recent arrivals and there simply has not been time to plan a successful hit. A coordinated hit is even harder to execute. Even though we’re building up our security, Tyler believes that it is highly unlikely that anything could happen in the next two weeks.”

“What can we do to help?” Ron asked.

“First, we’d like to initiate some security procedures right away. For example, we’d like to make your schedules as varied as possible. One day come to work at 6 AM and leave at 3:30. The next day come at 8:30 and leave at 5:00. We want you to vary your route to and from wherever you go regularly, especially to and from home to the office. One of the easiest places to hit you is in your car. A varied schedule and route is one of the most successful ways to thwart that attempt. You will also be provided with “panic button’ devices. You are to keep them with you at all times, even at home. We believe we can be at your side in 30 seconds of your pressing the button. There are a number of other things too, and we’d like to give a seminar for you, your family members, and your very top staff tomorrow. We have high hopes that we can thwart any attempt. Nevertheless, we are putting in a contingency plan that Tyler has approved. Tyler’s yacht, the PT-I is being moved to San Diego early. It should arrive there tomorrow. If we believe that the attack is imminent, we’d like you and your principal people to fly to San Diego and get away from land. We believe that aboard your ship you are safest.”

“It’s not that hard to attack an unarmed ship,” Ron commented.

“It is when you don’t expect it to be used,” Wes explained. “All of this effort may be wasted though. There has been an unexpected development that we only discovered last weekend. It’s very troubling and may make our defenses vulnerable. Even now we’re not certain of the facts, but the news is enough to put us on ‘high alert’ status.

“What could have happened,” asked Ron, “to move up Tyler’s dates in initiating a full defense?”

“Something very disturbing,” Wes said, preparing the men for the announcement.

“We believe there is an insider who’s part of this plot!”

                               *      *      *      *      *