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The Bus Station

by Jonathan Perkins


We jump forward in time to catch up with Drew and JR as they turn forty. So much has changed in the little town of Hesperus, Colorado. The boys we have been following have graduated high school and went on to the next phase of their lives with great anticipation and big plans for life.

Steve opted not to go to college and instead joined his father's business. His ambition extended beyond just moving dirt. He saw the potential in building houses on the plots they were clearing and grading for the builders. He tried his hand at building a house, the first one for he and his wife, Mary Beth, his high school sweetheart. The success of this first one spurred him on to build another one, then another and soon was developing an entire plat of new houses. Eventually he became one of the premier home builders in southern Colorado.

Brian Summersby, Steve's teammate on the football team, went to college on a football scholarship. He graduated with a degree in sports medicine, his fall back career in case he didn't join a professional team. He was signed to a pro team and played three successful seasons, being named rookie of the year his first year. Halfway through his third season he took a hard hit and shattered his right knee. He was never to play ball again. He settled in Florida and opened a football training center. It had several levels of training and coaching, stating with high school players going all the way up to pro ball. Summer was primarily high school players and college players and the winter and spring were geared towards pro players in their off season. His program focused first on conditioning to build stamina and prevent injuries and then game strategy. In the fall when all the teams were playing, he would travel around to high school and college games and scout the players then submit reports to the pro teams. His program was so successful that he had a waiting list to get in. Boys from Hesperus were always got first consideration.

Bernie Thompson liked helping people and protecting his friends so he decided on a career in law enforcement. He majored in criminal law in college and attended the Colorado Police Training Academy. He joined the local force and at this writing had been appointed Chief of Police, the youngest in the town's history. . He was know for his compassion but was a hard ass when the situation called for it. If someone committed a minor infraction, they got a verbal warning. If they did the same thing a second time, they got a written warning. A third time brought the wrath of Bernie and the full force of the law. If he caught a high school student committing a moving violation, the first incident would end up with their vehicle being parked in the parking spot of shame in the police station parking lot, the equivalent of the stockades in the town common in colonial New England. Those students seldom wanted to endure the humiliation and ribbing of their friends so they never made the same mistake twice. Anyone committing a major crime knew they were going to suffer the maximum that Bernie could charge them with. Hesperus became a fairly crime free town.

Mildred's son Brett that had high tailed it out of town after trying to rape JR ended up in San Francisco. He had gotten in the drugs really heavy and became a gay prostitute to pay for his habit. His life was spinning out of control when he met a john in an alley for a quick blow and go. Unbeknown to him, it was a set up and four homophobic guys were there and beat him senseless. He was found the next morning and rushed to the hospital. If he wasn't in such poor health from his drug addiction he might have survived. The nurse had found a twenty dollar bill and a piece of paper in his shoe with a phone number on it. She called the number, not knowing who would answer but knew it had to be someone the boy wanted notified. She spoke with Mildred and told her of her son's death. Mildred knew she would get a call like this some day yet still she wasn't prepared for the finality of her son's life. When the nurse asked about arrangements for his body, Mildred just handed the phone to Elaine. In the end, JR paid to have Brett's body shipped home and buried in the local cemetery. Mildred contacted her ex-husband but he didn't bother coming to the funeral. Mildred and Mitch, the bus driver who had been Drew's father figure and confidant when JR first appeared on the scene, had become close during all of this and they married after a couple years of dating.

Andy, the bell boy at the hotel, impressed the hotel management when he was assigned the VIP guests the morning after losing his virginity. The hotel made him an offer he couldn't refuse. If he would switch his college major to hospitality and hotel management, they would subsidize his tuition in exchange for him working at the Oxford Hotel for five years after graduation. He agreed and eventually was promoted to general manager. A national conglomerate bought the hotel and wanted Andy to relocate to another of their high end hotels that was having management issues. He didn't want to move and instead offered to train a new manager at the Oxford. It worked so well, corporate set up a full time training program at the Oxford, with Andy in charge. He stayed single and would discreetly have a boyfriend on the side. He always made sure he was available when Drew and JR were in town.

Speaking of Drew and JR, their lives were pretty damn good. They both attended the same college together, JR picking up the tuition bill of course. Drew majored in business management. His education was put to good use in short order. The Army decided to close the base after all the bad publicity and put the land up for sale. JR bought the land and laid out plans for a huge truck stop and service center. It became the biggest truck stop in all of southern Colorado. Drew hired Mitch to run the day to day duties while he would oversee the operation and travel to Denver with JR on his frequent trips.

JR was so inspired by mother Shirely's love of flowers that he major in Horticulture. He couldn't stand the thought of selling the house and the possibility that his mother's gardens would be destroyed. He hired a gardener to make sure they were tended to and thrived. He hired someone to look after the upkeep of the house itself until he decided what to do with it. . Attorney Cunningham was pushing JR to sell the house or do something useful with it. JR sat up in bed one night and shook Drew awake.

"Drew, wake up! I know what I'm going to do with the house!" he yelled excitedly.

"You're going to do something tonight?" Drew asked groggily.

"No, dummy. Tomorrow I'm going to call the lawyer and have him set the house up as a home for runaway boys, especially gay boys who have been thrown out of their homes."

"That's a great idea. Now go back to sleep. You can go to the storeroom in the morning and look for your first customers," Drew said as he rolled over and went back to sleep.

In a year's time "Elaine's House" was up and running. JR had hired a man and his wife to manage the program at the house. Their gay son had committed suicide because of the torment he was suffering at school when he came out. He hired a counselor who would work with the boys and their parents to try and reunite them or at the very least work with the boys to get them to accept themselves for who they were. The house was filled in no time. One of the most important house rules was that any new boy coming in had to let his parents be notified that he was alive and okay. The other important rule was that each boy was assigned some chores to do and they were required to do them. Every one had to share in the responsibilities in Elaine's house, whether it be in Denver or Hesperus. The home and the program saved many boys and families over the years. JR would stop in and visit often when he had traveled to Denver. He got on the board of directors of the Denver Botanical Gardens and was instrumental in adding a new wing, "Shirely's Garden". When I say instrumental, I mean he paid for almost all of the $5 million dollar price tag personally.

Speaking of a Board of Directors, the court hearing for the injunction that Hanson and Radcliffe had asked for got them nothing but a dress down from the judge. He explained it was JR's company and he could do as he pleased. He issued a gag order so the employees wouldn't know that they had tried to scuttle the profit sharing program. It would destroy moral, just the opposite of what JR was trying to do. Things seemed to be running smoothly at the factory for about a year until the bookkeeper noticed some irregularities with some of the vendor's accounts. She alerted JR who put the accountant on it to see what was happening. He found evidence that Hanson and Radcliffe had set up fake accounts and had been embezzling some serious cash from the company. Hanson and Radcliffe were tried and convicted and sentenced to five to ten years in state prison with restitution to be made. JR didn't want the time and effort that was required to ensure the companies future to interfere with his college studies. He got together with the two most senior employees who took over for Hanson and Radcliffe and made them an offer they couldn't refuse. He would sell the company to the employees, a relatively unheard of idea at that time. He financed the sale and offered to help them if they needed anything. They didn't. The company thrived and paid off the loan several years ahead of time.

JR planted gardens all around the house in Hesperus. Elaine was delighted and would spend her later years sitting in the sun and admiring the flowers. She would pick a bouquet to adorn the living room and the bedrooms every several days. She passed peacefully sitting in the garden, at peace with herself and he family. She was so proud of both her boys.

The boys are now men, full grown and enjoying their life together. As Drew had promised, he never left JR's side. It would have been impossible as JR was always at Drew's side. The made some upgrades to the family house in Hesperus, but they lived there with no thoughts of ever moving. It was more than a house, It was their home. When gay marriage became legal in Colorado, the boys made if official and got married at the ripe old age of 62.

A poor country boy and a rich city runaway, together for better of worse, in sickness and health until death do them part. Together forever.

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