The Country Boy

By: Ron Robbins
(© 2014 by the author)
Editor: Frank Perry

The author retains all rights. No reproductions are allowed without the author's consent. Comments are appreciated at...


Kyle parked his car in the parking lot of Buckhead Catering Services and let himself in through the service entrance.  He could hear his boss, Jeb Hudson, chewing somebody out as he walked down the hall to the office.  He sat and waited for Jeb to finish his call.  "What've you got for me tonight?" Kyle asked.

"The kind of job you like," Jeb said.  "This is a clean-up job at a posh office in the Perimeter office complex.  We're catering a cocktail party for them tonight.  They are going 1st class on this one, cocktails and buffet.  I want you to pack up our gear and clean the place after the party is over.  I'll pay you a hundred bucks on this one, Kyle.  My regular crew is working scheduled for a morning wedding tomorrow.  I can't expect them to work half the night and be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed for the wedding."

"The party should be over by eleven, so you can start clearing out our stuff around midnight and be out of there by 4am.  The food service guys will take care of the perishables and the liquor.  I told them to pack all the dishes and glasses.  What do you say, Country Boy?"

"Sounds like a winner," Kyle said.  "I can sure use the money.  Where is the job?"

"At the offices of Wentworth, Longwood, Wentworth & Lodge," Jeb answered.

"You're kidding me, right?"

"Why would I kid you?"

"That's where I work.  I heard that they were giving an anniversary party tonight.  Can you beat that?  I'm glad I'm going in after the party's over.  It wouldn't look right if they saw me working the party."

"You slay me, Country Boy.  For God's sake, you're nothing but a pencil pusher for that company.  Who gives a rat's ass about a grunt like you?  You're earning an honest living to make ends meet.  What's wrong with that?  You think they're gonna fire you for the pittance they pay you?"

Kyle chuckled, "That's why I enjoy working for you, Jeb, and you have that knack of putting things in their proper prospective."

"Yeah, yeah, when you finish tomorrow morning, back the truck up to the loading ramp and drop the keys into the mail slot next to the front door.  The crew will be in early tomorrow morning to unload the truck and get ready for the wedding."

"Will do, and thanks for the job," Kyle said.  "See you Sunday afternoon."

Kyle set his alarm clock for eleven and went to bed.  He read a little until he couldn't keep his eyes open any longer.  The next thing he heard was the alarm going off.  He jumped out of bed and dressed.  On his way over to Buckhead Catering, he stopped off at Burger King for hamburgers and coffee.  Lou was waiting for him when he arrived.  He opened the gate, parked his car and headed for the truck.  "Hi, Lou, ready for the ball?" Kyle asked.

"I'm ready for bed, if you must know.  I tried to take a nap, but sleep wouldn't come."

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

Kyle backed the truck up to the service door at his office and unloaded the dollies.  "Jeb said to take care of the large conference room, the lobby and the two executive offices they used for the buffet," Kyle said.  "Let's move everything from the offices and the conference room into the lobby first.  When everything is moved into the lobby, you can load the truck while I clean the offices."

"Sounds like a winner," Lou said.

Kyle started with Kevin Wentworth's office.  He saw through the frosted glass door that the lights were on in Kevin's office.  He pushed the door open and saw Kevin asleep on the sofa.  He walked over and shook his shoulder.  "Wake up, Kevin; it's time to go home."   Kevin didn't respond; he was out cold.  Kyle shook him again, a little harder this time.

"Leave me alone, Mike," Kevin said.  "I'm too damn tired to have sex with you."

Kyle smiled, "Well now, that's interesting."  He left him to sleep it off.  He stacked the packing cases on the dolly and moved them out into the lobby.  After finishing cleaning up Kevin's office he turned off the overhead lights and left a desk lamp burning, closing the door behind him as he left.

By three-thirty, Lou and Kyle had loaded the truck and cleaned the offices.  "You wait here while I see if I can rouse my boss," Kyle said.  He headed to Kevin Wentworth's office.  Kevin was in the same position as earlier.  Kyle shook him again.  "Kevin, wake up."  This time Kevin opened his eyes.  "What are you doing in my room in the middle of the night?" Kevin asked.

"You're in your office.  You must have passed out here last night.  Come on, you can't stay here, you've got to go home," Kyle said.

Kevin was having difficulty focusing his eyes.  "Let me help you sit up," Kyle said, as he helped Kevin up to a sitting position.

"Oh, God, I feel like hell," Kevin said.  Kyle sat next to him on the couch and put his arm around him.  "You'll feel better after you sleep off whatever it is you've been drinking," Kyle said.  "Look Kevin, you can't let the janitorial staff see you like this.  Is your Mercedes in the lot?"

"Yes," Kevin said.  "You work in the engineering department, don't you?"

"Yes sir."

"Let's go, I'm going to drive you home," Kyle said.  Kyle helped Kevin to his feet and they left.  Lou was waiting in the lobby.

"Lou, you drive the truck back to the lot and drop the keys in the mail box.  I'll pick up my car tomorrow.  I'm driving Mr. Wentworth home," Kyle said.

Kyle locked up and helped Kevin into his car.  "Where to Kevin?"

"Buckhead Manor Estates," Kevin said.

Twenty minutes later, Kyle pulled into the garage at Kevin's townhouse.  "I need to use your telephone to call a cab, Kevin."

"No, take the car home, I'm not going anywhere for the rest of the day."  Kevin pulled out a card from his wallet.  "Here, call me when you wake up later today.  I'll drive you over to pick up your car.  I can't thank you enough for helping me out this way.  I'm embarrassed that you found me in this condition.  You're a life saver."

"I'll call you this afternoon," Kyle said.  Kyle chuckled, "And Kevin, this will be our little secret.  Before you fall into bed, drink three glasses of water.  No pills, you got that, Tiger?  Think you can make it to your bedroom?"

"I'll be fine, Kyle.  You go on home."


Kyle rang Kevin's house at twelve-thirty.  "Mr. Wentworth, this is Kyle Johnson, you asked me to call you this afternoon."

"Why so formal?  What happened to Kevin?"

"Last night you were Kevin, today you are Mr. Wentworth," Kyle said.  "Last night changes nothing.  I'm sorry, I overslept, I can be ready in a half hour if you need your car right away."

"I'm surprised you called so early.  Have you eaten yet?"

"No, sir, I just woke up."

"Before we go any further, Kyle, I want you to call me Kevin.  Forget about sir, or Mr. Wentworth, okay?"

"You're the boss," Kyle said.

"Do you have anything planned for this afternoon?" Kevin asked.

"Nothing that can't wait."

"Good! After you've had time to dress, I would like you to drive over and we can do lunch," Kevin said.  "Do you like fish?"

"I'll eat anything as long as it's not overcooked."

"You're my kind of guy.  I'll make reservations at the Fish Net, unless you'd rather eat someplace else."

"That sounds fine, I've heard it's a great place," Kyle replied.

"Then the Fish Net it is," Kevin said.  "When you get here pull right into the garage.  The garage door will open if you press the button on the left side of the arm rest.  The door will automatically close as soon as the car clears the door jamb.  Take the stairs up to the living room.  I should be ready by the time you arrive."

Kyle showered, shaved and selected the new designer casual clothes that he bought last week.  He picked them up at the annual Saks Fifth Avenue sale.  Kyle got a kick out of driving Kevin's Mercedes roadster.  'Yes, sir, this is the way to travel.'

He didn't realize how luxurious the car was.  It was a comfortable, smooth handling car, yet powerful.  He enjoyed the feel and smell of the soft leather upholstery.  It was a great feeling to be driving a car like this.  'I'm going to make enough money to own a car like this one day.  If Kevin can do it, so can I.'

He pulled into Kevin's garage and turned off the car.  The door had closed as Kevin said it would.  He took the stairs up to the first floor.  He heard Kevin talking on the telephone as he walked in.  Kevin nodded to him and pointed to the sofa.

Kevin finished his call.  "Sorry I kept you waiting, Kyle, just checking with my Dad to see if I made an ass of myself.  According to Dad I was holding my own and volunteered to stick around and lock up after the caterers left.  I guess those last few drinks knocked me for a loop.  C'mon, let's go to lunch."

"Good, 'cause I'm starved," Kyle said as he handed Kevin the car keys.

"You drive, if you don't mind," Kevin said.

"I don't mind at all, I love that car."

At the restaurant they were seated at a quiet corner table away from the lunch crowd.  Kevin slipped Henry, the head waiter, a ten dollar tip.  "Perfect, Henry, we're both overcome with hunger.  I'm relying on you and the chef to work your usual magic.  Would you bring a selection of appetizers to get us started?"

"Would you like to split a good bottle of white wine, Kyle, or would you prefer a cocktail?" Kevin asked.

"I'd prefer the wine."

"Henry, we'll have a bottle of your fine German white wine," Kevin said.

"I'm still embarrassed about last night.  I'm in your debt.  It's still a mystery to me how I passed out like that.  I'm usually very careful not to drink too much at a party like that.  I just don't understand how I could have gotten so zonked.  Most of the time I was drinking club soda until the guests started leaving.  That's when I switched to white wine."

"Are you taking any medication," Kyle asked?

"Only antibiotics for my infected sinuses, but that shouldn't have caused that kind of reaction."

Kyle chuckled; "Maybe someone spiked your drink.  All kidding aside alcohol can do strange things to you.  Are you under any pressure at the moment?" Kyle asked.

"Yeah, I guess," Kevin said.  "I've taken on a new client and working my tail off.  This is the first weekend I've been home in two months.  If that isn't enough, my roommate, Tom Bradford, has decided to tie the knot and is relocating to San Francisco.  His future father-in-law offered him a sweetheart job with his firm.  I had to go in hock to come up with the money to buy out his half of the townhouse.  If it wasn't for good old Dad helping me out, I would have had to sell the place."

"Why don't you sell the place and move into an apartment?" Kyle asked.

"Are you kidding?  I need the tax write-off.  That townhouse is a good investment.  It has already appreciated in value since Tom and I bought it three years ago.  I'd rather struggle for the next couple of years.  Besides which, I could never go back to living in an apartment again.  At least not one I could afford.  There are too many restrictions and too many nosey neighbors to contend with in most apartments.  That's the nice thing about owning your own home.  I like my privacy.

"Tom is a great guy.  We were roommates at Princeton and have lived together since we graduated.  The Coca-Cola Company recruited him right out of college and put him through grad school.  In fact, we both got our MBAs at Georgia Tech together.

"We had everything down to a science.  We shared the chores and split the expenses down the middle.  Tom used to take care of the food shopping and the dry cleaning; I took care of the house and did the cooking.  I would like to find another roommate to share the expenses, but I don't know if I really want to at this point in my life."

"I know what you mean.  After my last roommate, I vowed never again.  I have a one-room efficiency on Peachtree Road.  It's in an old apartment building, but the landlord maintains the place and is choosy who he lets in the building.  He gives me a break on my rent for seeing that the garbage cans are put out twice a week for pickup.  Every little bit helps when you're on a tight budget," Kyle said.

The waiter brought the bill to Kevin.

"That was a delicious meal, Kevin.  Let's split the tab," Kyle said.

"Don't be silly, you're my guest today," Kevin said.  "I owe you for last night."  Kevin added the tip to the bill and signed the back of the bill.  "The firm has an account here and technically we are on company business."

"In that case, thank you for your treat.  It was enjoyable.  I can't think of the last time I had such a pleasant lunch, or better company," Kyle said.

"Do you have anything planned for the rest of the afternoon?" Kevin asked.

"Not really.  I have to pick up my paycheck and car from the caterers and do a little shopping at the market for dinner; other than that I'm free."

"Feel like spending the rest of the day with me?" Kevin asked.

"Sure.  I had planned to crack the books, but I hate the thought of sitting in the apartment on such a beautiful day.  What did you have in mind?"

"Nothing special, we can drop by the caterers and pick up your car and head back to my place.  I thought we could take in the new art exhibit at the High Museum, then go back to my place and barbeque some steaks for dinner.  How does that sound to you?"

"It sounds like a relaxing afternoon," Kyle said.

* * * * * * *

They drove back to Kevin's later that afternoon.  "You know, that was the first time I've been inside the High Museum since I moved to Atlanta.  That was one of my priorities for the last six years.  Invariably, every time I planned to attend, something more urgent would crop up," Kyle said.

"I'm glad you were able to realize one of your goals.  I've seen you around the office, but I must confess I never knew what you did.  I know you're a specialist with the utilities and engineering group, but that's about all I know.  What do you do?" Kevin asked.  "I'm so involved in my own area that I haven't bothered with the other departments."

"I'm really a facilities engineering specialist.  My job is to evaluate our customers' facilities and prepare a comprehensive report on their entire operation.  Basically, that means starting with the building and everything contained therein.  I evaluate the facility, equipment, the process and the manpower."

"That's quite a job.  Where did you learn all that?" Kevin asked.  "It sounds like a lot of detail work to me."

"Its interesting work and I really enjoy it.  My Dad is the one that got me interested in that line of work.  He was a plant manager for many years.  I began working part time in his plants when I was a teenager.  I was allowed to work on Saturday, or afternoons during school, and 40-hours a week during my summer vacations.  After graduating from Georgia Tech, I was hired as a process engineer in a large chemical plant in Collinsville, MS, and stayed there until I joined your company."

"Why did you leave a promising engineering job to take a desk job?"

"The plant I worked for was in the middle of nowhere.  This is typical of most large chemical plants.  The only reason I decided to go with Stevens Industries initially, was because they promised they would move me into their corporate engineering staff after I served my time at the plant level first.  Three years came and went, and I was still stuck in Collinsville.  I had no intention of remaining in rural Collinsville, Mississippi any longer.  When the VP of Engineering told me they were in a hiring freeze, and were not transferring me to corporate, I decided it was time to start looking."

"Hell, I was single and I had no intention of wasting another year of my life in a backwater town.  In fact, I was a year behind in my five year plan.  I had planned to be halfway through my MBA already.  No way was I going to spend the next twenty years in a small town only to become a plant engineer or manager.  My Dad worked hard all his life and was never really compensated for the hours he put into his plant.  He broke his back for his company and they up and sold out to a foreign firm.  One year after the buyout, they closed Dad's plant and offered him a job as a plant engineer in their Buffalo, New York operation.  That was his reward after twenty-eight years of faithful service.  Of course, he had no choice but to take the job at that point in his career, or he would have lost his retirement benefits.  It didn't do him much good though, he died of a stroke one year after he retired."

"I made up my mind that the same thing would never happen to me.  I took the job with your company because I needed experience with a consulting firm, plus the fact that your company is paying for my MBA.  Sure, I took a cut in salary to work for your company, but it will pay big dividends in the long run.  Actually, I'm really ahead by not having to pay the cost of my MBA.  I like what I'm doing and I've learned a lot so far.  I figure in another three years, I should be earning at least a quarter of a million a year."

"It's not my company yet," Kevin said.  "I'm an employee, just like you.  Of course things will change in the next quarter.  My father is transferring me over to the marketing development group.  So it look's like I'll be working with your group in the future."

"Let's not kid ourselves, Kevin.  Unless you screw up really bad, you'll be running this firm when your Dad retires."

Kyle pulled into the parking lot of Buckhead Catering.  "I'll take care of my business here and meet you back at your place," Kyle said.  "There's no sense in you hanging around waiting for me."

"Okay," Kevin answered.  "I'll leave the front door unlatched for you."


"That didn't take long," Kevin said, as Kyle walked in.  "How does barbecued steak, baked potatoes, and a salad sound for dinner?"

"Terrific, is there anything I can do to help?"

"You can set the table and open a bottle of red wine.  Use the white dishes in the butler's pantry.  The place mats, napkins, and flatware are in the drawers under the dish closet, and the wine is in the rack under the counter."

"Ah, a man after my own heart; everything is organized and spotless," Kyle said.

Kevin smiled, "Thanks.  It took Tom a long time to train me, but it paid off.  He was a firm believer in the old adage: A place for everything and everything in its place."

They finished in the kitchen and walked out to the patio where Kevin took the covers off the patio furniture and lit the gas barbecue.

"In comparison to my childhood, I envy you your small town existence.  You must have a lot of fond memories growing up in a small town.  My life was pretty much planned for me from day one.  I was kept isolated from other children, unless of course they were acceptable by my parents' standards.  Naturally, there were the proper private schools and all that sort of thing.  I was educated to appreciate the arts early on.  My parents made sure I attended the opening season of the opera, ballet, and the symphony, not to mention every major fine art museum in the United States.

"Thank God I was good in sports.  That was the only time I was able to do my own thing.  But even with sports, my parents had to pick and choose.  Football, ice hockey, and basketball were taboo.  I was allowed to participate in swimming, soccer, golf, and horseback riding.  I took to water sports like a fish to water.  I became State champion in the five-hundred meter in High School and in College."

"That explains your trim muscular build," Kyle said.  "Do you still workout?"

"Three time a week at the gym.  If I were smart, which I'm not, I would have headed there this afternoon.  Tomorrow is another day.  How about you, how do you keep in shape?" Kevin asked.

"I jog every morning and work three jobs.  They help to keep me in shape."

"How the heck do you manage to handle three jobs and keep up with your Masters program?"

"It's not as difficult as you think.  My full time position with Wentworth is a desk job most of the time.  My job with Buckhead Caterers is an on-call type of job.  They only call me in when they need me.  The consulting engineering jobs are again on a contract basis.  I'm the technical guru for two small chemical companies.  They only call me when their salesman has a technical problem or needs a system evaluation.  I average about eight projects a month.  I enjoy the engineering work; it gives me the chance to keep my hand in."

"I'd like you to drop by my office on Monday," Kevin said.  "I'd like to learn more about your work and we can discuss some of the new accounts I'll be handling.  I would like you to be on my team."

"I wish I could make it, Kevin, but starting tomorrow I'll be studying for my exams next week, how about the following week?"

"That's even better," Kevin said.  "I hope you do well on that exam."


One Month Later

Kevin said, "Come in and sit down.  I'm sorry I had to cancel our last appointment.  We had another problem with our new account in Tampa.  It usually takes a couple of weeks to work out the glitches in the beginning of any new project.  As of today, everything seems to be back on track.  How did you fare on your test?"

"Better than I thought actually. My GPA was 3.97," Kyle said.  "All that studying paid off.  I've been inundated with calls from Headhunters trying to recruit me.  A couple of the opportunities sounded damn good.  It's nice to feel wanted."

Kevin said, "That's great, Kyle.  I'm happy for you," Kevin said.  "I hope this doesn't mean you're thinking about leaving us?"

Kyle smiled.  "I'll be up front with you, Kevin; I plan to interview with two other companies.  It doesn't hurt to find out what the competition has to offer."

"You're right.  I think that’s a smart move on your part.  I trust you're not going jump at anything before you have a chance to evaluate all your options.  My Dad has a good idea of what our competition is doing.  He will probably discuss that with you soon.  I've had the opportunity to talk to Bob Bowen, our Technical Director, and he said he has great plans for you.

"Bob feels you are ready to move on to the next step in the process.  He said he can't teach you anymore than you already know about the engineering side of the business.  Our executive committee feels the same way.  As of today, you will be assigned to head up the Power Utilities group and will be assigned to my team.  You will be reporting to Ted Washburn, VP of the Business Planning division.  You can learn a lot working for Ted.  He trained me when I joined the firm.  Ted has forgotten more than most people will ever learn in this business.

"Dad told me to tell you that your salary has been increased to fifty thousand as of today.  As I said, he wants to discuss everything with you this afternoon.  You will be reviewed again in six months for your incentive bonus.  If you do well, it could be anywhere from 10 to 25 percent of your annual salary.  From now on, Kyle, you will be out in the field seventy percent of the time.  I strongly suggest you give up the part time jobs for now."

"I'm really overwhelmed by my salary increase and my promotion.  I had no idea at all that I would be moving up this fast.  Thanks, Kevin, I know you went to bat for me and I really appreciate it.  I'm not going to forget this," Kyle said.

"You're welcome.  I told you from the beginning that we'll make a great team and I meant every word I said.  You work hard and work smart and you'll make it.  I'll help you all I can in the beginning, until you feel comfortable in the job.  It's going to be rough for the first six months, but after that it will get easier.  You're smart, Kyle, and I'm confident you'll make it."

"Thanks Kevin; with you in my corner, I can't lose."

"Are you free for dinner tonight?" Kevin asked.

"Yes, as far as I know."

"Good, we can both celebrate our new jobs.  It's my treat," Kevin said.

"The next one's on me," Kyle said. 

Three Years Later

Kevin was true to his word.  He became Kyle's mentor and paved the way for him to become senior accounts group leader.  Actually, it was the same position Kevin held before he was promoted to Director of Business Development.  Kevin is well suited for that position.  He is intelligent, sophisticated and comfortable dealing with decision makers at the highest levels.  He is a high energy person and was well trained by his father.  Kevin had his five year plan in hand the day he became a freshman at Penn State.  He began cultivating his future clients during college.  His father must be given the credit for that, because he prepared Kevin early on for the climb up the corporate ladder.  Kevin became an active participant in college by volunteering for any committee or project that afforded him high visibility, yet was not controversial.  He ended up as class president at Penn State, and also racked up an impressive record at Harvard Business School.

By nature, Kevin was not only career oriented, but a social climber as well.  He continued to monitor the careers of his classmates after graduation and he remained active in the Alumni association and his fraternity.  He hired a researcher to keep an updated profile on every classmate that could be useful to him in business.

Kyle's first two years were the most grueling, yet the most satisfying of his career.  Of course he had no private life at all.  Socializing in his personal life was non-existent.  His job kept him busy eighty-percent of the time.  The second year was better, only sixty-percent that year.  He got used to the idea of living out of suitcases.  His wardrobe consisted of four tailored suits and a dozen pairs of slacks.  His uniform for the plants was that of any typical plant engineer, hard hats, and oxford button down shirt, tie, slacks, and sensible shoes, since most of his days were spent crawling around the plant gathering information for his reports, which he usually typed out every night.  That became a regular routine for him until half way into his third year.  That was when he was promoted to Account Manager in the Business Development group.

This was quite a big promotion for Kyle because he was given the opportunity to run the whole show.  Of course he still reported directly to Kevin, who stayed out of the project until Kyle completed his final report, since it was Kevin's account.  He gave Kyle a free hand with his team and only commented on the interim evaluation reports.  It wasn't big bucks; it was only a $30-million dollar operation, but it was Kyle's first crack at this job, and he was delighted to be given the opportunity to show what he could do.  Kyle was always happy to report that he did a bang-up job and was given a nice fat bonus.  With that success under his belt, he was given bigger and more ambitious projects.

For Kyle, plant evaluations were a snap, because of all his plant experience.  He was dealing with known quantities such as machinery, equipment, raw materials and the finished product.  Sure it was tedious and time consuming, but it was the intangibles that made the job interesting.


On Kyle's five-year anniversary Kevin and his dad invited him to lunch at the Dog & the Duck Restaurant in Buckhead.  When Kevin and Kyle arrived there was an office party in progress.  The big surprise was that it was for Kyle.  Not only was it an anniversary party, but it was also to celebrate his promotion to director of a new group.  Needless to say, he was thrilled, not only for the promotion, but for the nice increase in salary Warren Wentworth gave him.

Warren and Kyle had become friends over the years.  When Kyle was not on the road, he had a standing invitation to play a round of golf with Warren.  If Kevin was in town it became a threesome.  Kyle enjoyed spending time with Warren; who reminded him a lot of his dad.  They both had the same sound values, and down-to-earth approach to life.  They played golf every weekend with or without Kevin.  It gave Kyle a chance to catch up on what was happening in the office and was relaxing for him.  In fact, he liked playing with Warren much more than Kevin.  Warren and Kyle played a relaxed game, whereas Kevin played a competitive game.

Kevin was a great guy and Kyle enjoyed his company, but he could get testy at times.  It took Kyle a long time to understand his moods.  He rarely showed his feelings openly.  Kyle admired his control.  But, boy-oh-boy, when he was alone, he let it all out and got it off his chest.  After a while Kyle became aware of all the signs.  Basically, Kevin was a good person and would go to the wall to help a friend.  He certainly helped Kyle's career and was unselfish in sharing his knowledge.

After he became established and began to develop his own accounts, Kyle worked less and less with Kevin.  He was promoted to VP and spent less time on the road.  They still hung out together, and took trips together, but it wasn't the same.  Kyle missed the earlier times when they could bounce ideas off each other.

Kevin had one serious problem that ended his and Kyle's friendship and ended Kyle's career at Wentworth.  It was difficult for both of them; because they were so close that Kyle felt he owed Kevin for helping him with his career.  It hurt Kyle even more on a personal level because they had become good friends.

Kevin turned over one of his plum accounts.  It was quite a challenge for Kyle.  Kevin had handled this account for over three years and felt he shouldn't continue to handle it because of his close friendship with Jim Cromwell, an old crony of his from Penn State.  Jim was the staff VP of Operations and responsible for hiring Wentworth.  They were hired directly by the Chairman to come up with a comprehensive feasibility study on each of their seven plants.  The CEO and the executive staff were to be kept out of the loop because they were to be evaluated as well.  The chairman had to make some tough decisions before his annual stockholders meeting.  The bottom line was bad, with no increase in the last two years.  On top of that, they were having labor problems and the plants were in need of renovation if they wished to remain competitive.

Kevin and Kyle kicked the project around and agreed on a fee for the project.  It was an expensive project, requiring three teams, since United States Coatings & Plastics wanted our report in just four months.  Kyle presented the proposal and their approach to the project.  The Chairman signed off on the project and it began.

On any project of this scope you get to meet a cross section of diverse upper level managers.  Kyle usually covered the same procedure at every plant he visited.  He would meet with the plant General Manager and his staff and outline the program.  Usually the General Manager would assign his assistant, or the plant engineer, to work with him on his tour of the plant.  After visiting all seven plants, Kyle would assign his teams based on his evaluation of each plant.  The plants varied in size and their end product.  So every plant had a different set of unique problems.  Kyle tackled the Waterville operation, because it was the largest and the newest of the seven plants.  He was fortunate to have been assigned a bright, knowledgeable plant engineer by the name of Ed Callahan.  Kyle had always found that most people treat Wentworth workers as outsiders.  After the second week, Ed and Kyle became friends and he opened up a little.  Of course there was still some mistrust even though they were there to help.

One day, after everyone was gone and Ed and Kyle were finishing up the session, Kyle decided to feel him out about upper management.

"I've visited all seven plants in this company so far, and I noticed that this plant and the Carolina plant are the only two plants that have a staff of middle managers," Kyle said.  "Why is that, Ed?"

Ed laughed, "You noticed?"

"You have my word that anything you tell me will go no further.  The other plants have either young trainee's fresh out of college, or seasoned engineers," Kyle said.  "What makes this plant so different?"

"That's easy," Ed said.  "My boss and the GM in Carolina have the balls to tell the VP of Operations in Corporate where he can go.  They can get away with that because we are the only two plants that are making a profit.  I was transferred from Mississippi to this plant after I couldn't take it anymore.  I was doing the work of three engineers and putting in seventy to eighty hours a week for months on end.  The GM of the Mississippi plant is a good guy and called my boss so I was transferred to this plant last year.  I've got the feelers out now for another job.  Look, Kyle, there's no future in this company.  It's a training ground for young engineers starting out.  There is no room for a middle management engineer; this is a dead-end company.  I've lost more damn good engineers than you can imagine.  I've spent two years training entry level engineers that leave when they find a better job.  These young folks today are not dumb; they learn fast."

"If you were VP of Operations, how would you change things?"

"Look, I'm not saying it's his entire fault," Ed said.  "But he knows what's going on in these plants.  That Mississippi plant is a joke.  It will never make a profit.  Whoever the idiot was that made the decision to keep that plant has cost the company a lot of money.  Sure the state and local government gave the company a tax break to reopen that old plant.  You could also argue that there is a large labor market and the utility companies are giving them a break.

"But look at the other side of the ledger.  We had to spend tens of thousands of dollars refurbishing that plant.  The company had to move expensive equipment in and then had to hire and train an unskilled labor market.  Once they had everything in place, they couldn't hire any experienced engineers to work there.  So they lured them down here with high starting salaries and fat signing bonuses.  But those engineers quit after a year.  Besides which, the shipping costs of raw materials, and the finished product, cost us a bundle because they are so far removed from our customers.  So that five-year incentive and tax moratorium means nothing.  They've already spent that savings in the first two years of operation.  The only way to save that plant is to come up with a new product line that doesn't rely on the automotive market."

"Off the record, what does your GM feels about the company?" Kyle asked.

"My boss has thirty years invested in this company.  He hopes they stay in business until he can collect his profit sharing," Ed told him.  "He's better off than most, his wife is a doctor.  He can always find something to do until he retires."

"C'mon, I've had it for today," Kyle said.  "I'll buy you dinner."

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

Kyle finished up the project in three months and didn't pull any punches in the report.  He dropped off the rough draft to Kevin before completing the final report.  He had a few comments, particularly the ones about Jim Cromwell's poor management decisions,, and for not keeping his boss informed about what was going on in the plants.  Naturally, Kevin was bothered by that, and asked Kyle to tone down the report so that Jim didn't look so bad.  "After all," Kevin said, "Jim was responsible for getting us in there to begin with, plus the fact that he is a good friend."

Kevin asked if he could rewrite Jim's section without excusing him from any blame.  Kyle really had no objections to that because it was really Kevin's account.  Anyway, Kevin was the boss, and if he wanted to fudge a little, Kyle wasn't going to complain.  Kyle finished the report and copied it to a zip disk for Kevin to finish up.

That was the end of that and Kyle moved on to his next project.  It was six months later he received a call from Ed Callahan.  He wanted to get together for lunch the following week since he would be in town on business.

Ed told Kyle that he left United and went with McCormick International.  He said they made him an offer he couldn't refuse.  He was really sorry to hear that they transferred his boss to the Alabama plant and the GM of the Carolina plant to Mississippi.

"What are you talking about, Ed?" Kyle asked.  "I can't believe that the Chairman would do something like that.  My advice was to close the Louisiana and Mississippi plants and expand the Georgia, Carolina and Alabama plants, promote your boss to Director of Operations, and eliminate Jim Cromwell's position."

Ed laughed.  "I don't know why they bothered to call you in at all.  Quite frankly, I hope they go down the tubes; they don't deserve to stay in business.  Now you can see the reason for this meeting," Ed said.  "I want you to meet my boss this Friday.  He wants to talk to you about some ideas he has about expanding McCormick, and discuss with you ideas on acquisitions.  Are you interested?"

"Of course not," Kyle said.  "What, are you crazy?  Of course, I'm interested.  Where will you be at eleven-thirty, Friday?"

"We'll have a meeting at Century Center and should be finished by noon."

"Good.  I'll take you and your boss to one of my favorite restaurants.  I'll meet you outside Century Center at noon."

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

Ed's statement about the United report bothered Kyle.  True, he hadn't read the finished report after Kevin revised Jim Cromwell's profile.  It's hard to believe that United would completely ignore all his recommendations.  He decided to check it out, so he called Lisa, Kevin's secretary, and asked her to make a disk copy of the completed United file.  She said she would be happy to, but Kevin was in Brazil and she didn't have his access code.  Kyle asked Lisa to call Warren, since he has all the codes.

Later that afternoon, Lisa dropped off the disks on the United files.  Kyle couldn't believe his eyes when he accessed the report that Kevin delivered to the Chairman of United.  He could not understand why it was so radically altered until he took the time to read the report submitted to United four years ago.  Everything became clear then.

Kyle called Warren and asked him to step into his office when he had a few minutes, that there was something he needed to show him.

"What's up, Kyle?" Warren asked as he walked into Kyle's office.

"Please take a seat, Warren, this will take some time.  I told my secretary that we were not to be disturbed."  Kyle closed the door and returned to his desk.  "Warren, I'm going to give it to you straight.  Kevin falsified two reports that could cause you to close this company.  This could even cause Kevin jail time."

"What in the name of God are you saying, Kyle?"

Kyle then told Warren the whole story from the beginning, and explained how his report was altered and why.

"Good God! I don't understand what was in Kevin's mind when he did this.  Surely he must have known this would be discovered.  I don't know what to say, Kyle.  I'm so shocked by this deceit."

"Warren, I feel the same way.  I've worked side-by-side with Kevin for five years and would never have believed he would do something like this until I saw it here in black and white.  What about my credibility if this gets out?  After all, I was the man that prepared the report."

"There is nothing I can do until Kevin returns.  How can I make this right for you?"

"If Kevin were here right now, I'd strangle him," Kyle said.  "This may sound harsh, but I can't work with him again.  He has destroyed the trust and loyalty I felt for him.  Give me some time to think about this whole thing.  My feeling at this moment is to resign, but that's the easy way out.  You are the one I feel sorry for now.  He has hurt you the most.  I wouldn't want to be in your shoes right now."

Warren shook his head.  "He's my son, no matter what mess he's created for me.  I feel terrible about this, you were a great team; I'm so sorry.  Thank you for staying on.  Please give me a copy of your report as well the copies you have.  I'll need to talk to my lawyers."

"I'm glad that Kevin is not around; it would only make matters worse.  There may be a way around this United thing, so don't give up hope yet.  We'll kick it around Saturday."

Warren smiled, "Thanks, Kyle.  See you Saturday morning at the club."

The Plantation

This place is something out of Gone with the Wind," Ed said.  "It's very unusual.  I like the way the way the staff is dressed.  You kind of expect something like this when you visit Atlanta."

"You're right about this Plantation.  It survived the Civil War.  The owners are very fussy who they let in.  Everything is authentic," Kyle said.  "It's as if we've gone back in time.  I enjoy dining here, they never rush you and it's quiet."

"I hope you don't think it's rude to discuss business in this lovely place, Kyle, but we're pressed for time," Murdoch McCormick said.  "Our flight leaves in four hours."

"Not at all," Kyle said.  "How may I be of service?"

"As you know, my firm is an international one and we are trying to invest in the U.S. market," Murdoch said.  "We have been successful in controlling the manufacture of our patented technology rather than licensing our technology to someone else.  Ed tells me that you were the man responsible for the survey on United States Coating & Plastics.  I'd like to know if they would be interested in selling.  My broker said that United is a privately held corporation and he didn't have anything on them.  What do you know about them, Kyle?"

"Your broker is correct," Kyle said.  "The company is owned by the Pemberton family.  I met Clarence Pemberton, the majority stockholder five months ago.  If you'd like, I'll call Clarence directly and feel him out."

"I think that would be the best way to proceed," Murdoch said.  "Ed here thinks that United would be a good investment for McCormick International.  Assuming Mr. Pemberton is willing to talk, I'd like some idea of the figure they have in mind.  If it's over 500 million, I'm not interested.  If they're serious, I'll have my lawyers draw up a letter of intent, with the stipulation that your firm will handle the audit and survey.  Personally, I would like to keep this whole operation confidential.  I don't want to get involved in a bidding war.  If Mr. Pemberton agrees, you can update the evaluation you did on them already.  That will save us a lot of time."

"That would not be a problem," Kyle said.  "In fact, I don't think anyone would give it a second thought."

"If this is a go, Kyle, you can bill me the same as you did for the original report," Murdoch said.

"Thank you, sir, my boss is going to love this," Kyle said.

Murdoch pulled out his business card and scribbled two numbers on the back of it.  "Here is my card, Kyle.  The two numbers on the back are to my private lines.  Let me know what you find out.  Ed and I have a plane to catch."

Kyle paid the bill and they left.  "Tell you what, Ed; I think you should use the limo to take the two of you to the airport.  We'll drop you off at your hotel.  The driver can take me to my office and come back and wait until you're ready to leave."

"That would save us a lot of time," Ed said.  "Thanks, Kyle"


"Mr. Pemberton, this is Kyle Johnson of Wentworth, Longwood, Wentworth & Lodge, the consulting firm that did the United survey.  Do you remember me, sir?"

"Yes, I remember you, Kyle."

"I'm calling you today because I've been asked by a client to learn if you would entertain the thought of selling your company."

"Are you in your office, Kyle?" Mr. Pemberton asked.

"Yes sir."

"Good.  I'll call you back from another phone in a few minutes."  Mr. Pemberton hung up the telephone and called information for the telephone number in Atlanta for Wentworth, Longwood, & Lodge.  He dialed the number and asked for Kyle.

"Hi, Kyle," Mr. Pemberton said.  "I wanted to make sure you were the right Kyle Johnson.  You can't be too careful these days.  The answer to your question is yes."

"Wonderful.  Now the next question, do you have a figure in mind?"

"Yes, I do, but I don't think I want to disclose that this early in the talks."

"My client has a figure in mind that is between 400 and 500 million," Kyle said.  "Are you comfortable with that range?"

"That range is acceptable; however it will depend on the buyer.  I don't want to sell our company to just anyone, Kyle.  Who are you representing?"

"Murdoch McCormick, of McCormick International."

"I've heard about him," Mr. Pemberton said, "McCormick International is also a family owned business.  Why don't you have Mr. McCormick call me this weekend if he's free?" He gave Kyle his private telephone number.  "Thank you for approaching me with this proposal, Kyle.  I hope this works out to our mutual satisfaction."

Kyle called Murdoch and left a message on his voice mail asking him to return his call.  He pulled out his original of the United report and re-read the entire thing once again.  As he began making notes of the staff people he had interviewed in the last report, he became so wrapped up in the report that he didn't realize the time, until his secretary stuck her head in the door to ask if he needed anything before she left for the weekend.  "No, thanks, Betty, have a great weekend."

Kyle copied the United files to a set of disks and turned off his computer.  He locked his files and safe.  He stuck his laptop computer in his brief case, donned his coat and headed for the door as his private line rang.  It was Murdoch McCormick.  Kyle briefed him on his conversation with Clarence Pemberton and told him that Pemberton was anxious to learn the outcome of their conversation.  He gave Murdoch Pemberton's home number and left the office.

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

One of the most disturbing things Kyle had to face was packing up his personal effects from Kevin's townhouse; it felt so strange.  Kevin and he were so close; they each had a bedroom suite in the other's home.  If Kyle didn't want to drive up to his place on Lake Lanier, he'd stay with Kevin, and they both enjoyed the time spent together at Kyle's lake house.  It was a great place to unwind.  Kyle still couldn't get it through his mind that Kevin would do this to him, of all people.

Kyle drove over to his place and changed.  He found several large corrugated boxes in the basement and began packing up his stuff.  He could see it was going to take several trips.  He never realized how much stuff he had accumulated over the years.  Some of the boxes were still there from his old apartment.  He stopped briefly for a quick bite, and continued working away until midnight.  Keeping busy like this kept his mind off the pain Kyle felt in the pit of his stomach.  Some items held special meanings for him and it made it much harder.  Kevin was generous with the gifts he gave him.  Kyle would never think of spending the money Kevin did on the gifts he gave Kyle.

Kyle was dog tired and it was too late to drive up to the lake tonight.  He showered, poured himself a brandy and checked his voicemail.  Sure enough, there was a long message from Murdoch.  He and Mr. Pemberton had a two hour telephone conversation and were planning to meet Sunday at his home.  Murdoch wanted Kyle to be with him at that meeting.  He would like to meet Kyle for dinner tomorrow evening at the Ritz.  He would be arriving around six tomorrow evening.

Kyle called Murdoch saying he would meet him at the Ritz at six, and that he would drive him out to the Pemberton estate, Sunday.  He finished his brandy and went to bed.

He was up at eight, had breakfast and drove over to the club to meet Warren for an 8:30 tee-off.  "You look like hell, Kyle," Warren said.  "I think we should scratch our game today.  What do you say?"

"You're right, I'm really not up to it today," Kyle said.  "I couldn't sleep last night.  Let's find a quiet spot and talk."  They walked toward the club and sat on the patio.  "I stayed at Kevin's last night and began packing up my stuff.  It's not easy, believe me.  It's really strange when you think about it.  On the one hand, I hate him for betraying me, and on the other hand, I don't want to lose him as a friend.  He has become so much a part of my life now that I have to force myself to pack my belongings."

"I see," Warren said.  "This is a shame; things will never be the same again.  I'm anxious to hear Kevin's explanation.  Look, he won't be back in Atlanta for a month.  Why do you feel you have to rush to move your things out of his townhouse?"

"You never know what can happen, he could be home sooner and I'm not ready to talk to him right now."

"Quite true, this is difficult for both of us; I know how close you two were.  But try to keep this in perspective and not let it ruin your future.  I talked to my lawyers last night.  It's not as bad as we first thought.  What Kevin did was wrong, and there was absolutely no excuse for editing your report without discussing it with you first.  But his conclusions were not enough to hurt United or our company according to the lawyers.  Our clients are under no obligation to follow our advice."

"Well, it's all water under the bridge now, Warren.  If everything goes according to plan, United will be under new management, and Kevin's report will be meaningless.  I'll know more by tomorrow; my client and I are meeting with Mr. Pemberton then."

"This is good news, Kyle."

"I thought you would think so," Kyle said.  "The nice part about this whole deal is that I'm going to be using the data I gathered on the last report.  My client has agreed to pay us our full fee for the update."

"My God, Kyle, this is outstanding.  Who is this mysterious client of yours?"

"I'm afraid he's going to have to remain a mystery until the deal is closed.  Both principals wish to keep the talks secret."

"I understand," Warren said.

"This client owns a Fortune-500 company and wants me to handle his consulting business from now on.  So we should do quite well on this account.  Warren, I need some time off.  If all goes well, the United project should be my next major project.  I thought I'd take a week off and head for St. Thomas as soon as I wrap up the Microdot report."

"You do need the time off," Warren said.  "Don't worry about Kevin any longer, Kyle.  From now on, you will report to me.  I'll circulate a memo to that effect Monday.  You go home and try to get some rest."

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

By Monday afternoon, Kyle had moved all his possessions into the garage, and was waiting for the moving company to make the pickup.

He walked through the house for one last time and found that he had forgotten to pack his CDs and books in the den.  There was enough to fill three more boxes.  He carried them to the garage as the moving van was backing into the driveway.  After the movers left, he called his housekeeper, Ming, to let him know that the movers were on their way.  Then he dressed and headed to the office.

He went directly to Warren's office.  "Sorry I'm late," Kyle said.  "After dropping my client off at the airport last night, I went right to sleep for twelve hours.  I spent the rest of the time pulling my things together for the movers.  Now I'm completely moved out."  He handed Warren a brown envelope.  "Please see that Kevin gets this envelope.  It contains his garage door opener, a set of house keys, and a letter from me."

"I'll see that he gets it," Warren said.

"I'm leaving Wednesday morning for St.  Thomas.  I decided to spend two weeks there.  I'll email the Microdot report to you tomorrow.  Well, Warren, my client is purchasing United.  They shook hands on the deal yesterday.  I'm supposed to begin my survey in two weeks.  I've made arrangements to stay at the Guest Quarters while I'm in town from now on.  I'll be back in the office two weeks from Wednesday.  I've already talked to the guys I'll be using to help me on the United account.  Actually, it's the same crew I used before."

"Congratulations are in order," Warren said.  "You've done a fine job.  Now relax and enjoy your vacation."


Kevin did not return on schedule.  He was stuck in Brazil for an additional month.  His flight was delayed and he didn't adjust well to the time change, so he went right to bed.  He woke the next morning at nine, dressed and headed for the office.  He dropped off his briefcase and laptop computer in his office, and chatted with his secretary to catch up on the latest, then headed for his father's office.

"Good morning, Dad, it's good to be home.  How is everything going?"

"How was your trip?"

Kevin said, "Terrific, I picked up some new accounts while I was there, that's why I was delayed another month.  Is Kyle in town?"

"No, he's in Canada.  He'll be there another month or so.  Oh, by the way, Kyle has been promoted to VP.  He no longer reports to you."

"Oh?  That's kind of sudden."  Kevin said.  "Not that he doesn't deserve being promoted."

"It was that or loose him to the competition.  He was on the verge of leaving us."

"What!?  Kyle would never go with the competition.  At least that's what he's always told me.  What's going on, Dad?  Why would Kyle want to leave?"

"Because he feels that you betrayed him.  He found out what you did on the United report."  His father opened his drawer and pulled out the envelope that Kyle had given him.  "Here.  He asked me to give you this envelope."

Kevin turned white; his hand shook as he opened the envelope.  He looked inside and saw the set of keys and the garage door opener to his home.  He walked over and closed the door to his father's office and returned to his chair.  "I prayed that Kyle never found that out."

"Why, son? Why would you do that to Kyle without telling him?  You must have known how he would react."

"It was stupid of me to think that I could get away with that," Kevin said.  "I take it he's moved out of my place?"

"He was a basket case for several days.  You really hurt him, Kevin.  You hurt us both on this one and you put the firm at risk.  You owe me an explanation."

"I did it because I was black-mailed by Jim Cromwell," Kevin said.

"I don't understand; I thought you and Jim were good friends."

"We were, but Kyle's report was very unfavorable to Jim.  If Kyle's report was submitted the way it was, Jim would have been fired.  In fact, I told Kyle that I was going to rewrite Jim's section to soften it.  However, Jim was so involved with the operations of the plants that I had to share some of the blame with the other general managers as well."

"How did Jim know what was in Kyle's report?"

"He has his spies everywhere.  Plus, Jim is shrewd; he had a pretty good idea, by Kyle's questions, where it all was leading.  He asked me about the report and I told him the truth.  That's when he threatened me unless I changed the report.  You see, Dad, at one time Jim and I were lovers.  I'm gay, Dad, and Jim threatened to expose me to you and some of my clients."

"How long have you known that you are a homosexual?"

"Since high school; I'm sorry it took so long to get around to telling you, but it's not an easy thing to explain.  I did plan to tell you some day, honestly."

"I wish you had told me sooner, son.  Maybe this could have all been avoided.  I've suspected as much for sometime, but I didn't want to broach the subject.  It was easier to ignore it.  It's going to take me a bit of time to accept your orientation, but remember, son, no matter what you do, you are my son, and I love you.  I beg you to be more careful from now on.

"You realize that you've destroyed your friendship with Kyle, don't you?"

"I know, and it's really sad.  Either way, it was a no-win situation.  You know what a straight arrow Kyle is, Dad."

"You don't know that, Kevin.  It's all water over the dam now.  Kyle's found a buyer for United.  Jim Cromwell is going to get canned this time around.  Kyle is updating his original report and telling it like it is."

"See you later, Dad; I have a lot of work ahead of me." Kevin went back to his office and read the letter from Kyle.

Dear Kevin.

I am in complete shock and deeply hurt by what you have done.  For God's sake, you are my best friend.  How could you do this to me, of all people?

As I was packing my things today, I was reminded of so many of the good times we shared together.  It breaks my heart that you have treated me this way.  Maybe some day, when my wounds will have healed, we can talk about this.  Right now, I feel betrayed.

Kevin, have you any idea the harm you have caused?  You not only deceived me, but you were unethical in giving our clients erroneous information on which they were to make crucial business decisions.  This is so unlike you.

Enough said; you won't be burdened with my presence any longer.  I've removed all my personal things from the townhouse and have enclosed your keys and the door opener.

Ming has packed up all your belongings at the villa and will help you move them.  I would appreciate your removal of your boat from my dock.  Under the circumstances, I don't feel that I should keep such an expensive gift.  Again, it would bring back too many memories.  The last item of business is the villa we jointly own in St.  Thomas.  I've attached the current appraisal from the real estate agent.  I stayed there on vacation last month and unfortunately all I could think of was you.  Contact my lawyers when you decide what you want to do about your half.

For the good of the firm, we must continue to act in a professional manner in the office.  No one knows of our separation other that your dad.  As unpleasant as that may be, we must continue to act as if nothing has happened.


Kevin put down the letter and cried.  He had not done that in years.  Later that morning, he called his dad to find out when Kyle would be back in town.

Kevin worked non-stop for the next month counting the days that Kyle would be in town again.  Kevin was in St. Thomas the first week that Kyle was back in the office.  He knew that Kyle would leave for his Lake Lanier home after lunch, Friday, so he flew into town and drove up to the lake house to arrive at nine o'clock.  He knew that Ming took off Friday night after dinner and would return Sunday morning.  The gate opener still worked; he switched off his headlights and drove up into the garage.  Ming's van was gone.  He closed the garage door and let himself in through the back door.  He could see Kyle seated in the den watching television.  Kevin walked into the room.  "What's the score?" he asked.

Kyle jerked his head to face Kevin.  His face registered complete shock.  "Kevin, what the hell are you doing here?"

"I had to see you," Kevin said.  "You didn't think I was going to leave it the way things were, did you?  I came up here to tell you how ashamed I am, and to apologize for hurting you.  I would like to explain why I changed your report."

"Forget about that, it's over and done with now," Kyle said.  "Why don't you leave by the same way you came?"

"It will never be over and I'm not leaving until you hear me out."  Kevin walked over to the bar and poured himself a brandy.  "Would you like something?" he asked.

Kyle nodded his head "I'll have the same.  You know, you really have a pair of balls.  You just walk in here as if nothing has happened, just like you owned the damn place.  I guess I can only blame myself for not changing the codes.  Suppose I was entertaining?"

"Then I would have come back another night," Kevin said.  He handed Kyle his drink and turned off the TV.

"Would you like this chair?" Kyle asked sarcastically.

Kevin smiled, "Not right now, maybe a little later.  Now listen, and don't interrupt," Kevin said.  He sat in the chair facing Kyle.  "I rewrote your report because I was being blackmailed by Jim Cromwell.  He threatened to tell everyone that I was a homosexual.  Jim and I were lovers for a short time.  I know what I did was wrong, but I was frightened.  I didn't want you or Dad to know that I was gay."

"You're a real jerk, Kevin.  Why didn't you come and tell me about Jim.  Did you really think I would have turned my back on you?  For Christ's sake, I suspected you were gay the first night I found you drunk in your office."

"What!? Good God, and here I thought I was being so clever at concealing my life style from you.  Did you also know that I'm in love with you?"

Kyle said, "No, that I didn't know, but it answers a lot of questions I had about you.  Why didn't you say something before this?"

"Because I thought you wouldn't have anything to do with me if you knew."

Kyle stared at Kevin and said nothing.  He took a sip of his drink and said, "What you did was wrong, and it will take me some time to put it behind me.  I've had a special place in my heart for you since that day I found you in your office.  That feeling has grown over the years, yet I didn't try to come on to you because I felt that it would ruin the close platonic relationship we had.  I still believed that old chestnut that you don't mix business with pleasure.  I felt that it would be a mistake, and unprofessional, to have any relationship with you since you were my boss.  As I said before, what you did hurt more because of the way I felt about you.  I could care less what happened to Jim or what he said about you.  Jim was an incompetent ass and was the reason many good men left that company.  He deserved to be fired.  I'm sure the news would spread and people would realize what a jerk he is, and anything he would say would not be taken seriously.  He was not liked at all, and that would come out as well.

"Didn't it ever occur to you that I might be gay?  We have been rooming together for many years now.  Other than client dinners, did you ever wonder why I never dated women?  Over the last two years, we have always been together.  Didn't that cause you to wonder?  I am gay, Kevin.  I finally came to that conclusion after I graduated college.  After I was located to this small town in Mississippi, I knew I would never be happy living in a town where everyone knew your business.  Naturally, I knew I couldn't have a gay relationship there.  The only thing that helped keep me sane was to visit the large cities where I could meet other men of the same persuasion and not be noticed."

Kevin said, "I've never thought for a second that you could be gay.  I know we had a rule that we never brought a date to the townhouse, but you never even had guy's call you at home, other than for business.  I had a few affairs since you moved in with me, but I was always careful to meet them somewhere else.  I've had a few affairs that looked like they might work out, but in the end it never happened.  Since you purchased this place, and we bought the St Thomas place, I have given up on finding a mate.  How could I ever find a man that could measure up to you?"

"I've said what I came to say and it's getting late, would you mind if I stayed the night?  I promise to be gone early tomorrow morning."

Kyle said, "You can stay, I wouldn't want you to fall asleep on the way to Atlanta.  You don't need to leave early tomorrow morning."

Kevin said, "Thanks, I appreciate that.  It's been a rough week and I have not been sleeping too well lately."

Kyle said, "We'll talk again in the morning."

•   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •   •

The room was bathed with the reddish glow of the morning sun as Kevin awoke.  He could smell the coffee and decided to head for the bathroom to shower and dress.  Afterward, he walked down the hall to the kitchen and saw Kyle sitting at the table in the breakfast room reading the morning paper.

"Good morning, Kevin; pour yourself a cup of coffee.  Now that you're up, I can fix breakfast."

"Thanks," Kevin said, "I am a bit hungry this morning.  I haven't felt like eating much lately.  How long have you been up?"

"About an hour," Kyle replied, as he busied himself making breakfast.  "You know I'm an early riser."

He dished out the eggs, bacon and toast, and took them over to the table and said, "Dig in."

After they finished eating, Kevin cleared the table and refilled both mugs with coffee.

Kyle said, "I've had time to think over what you said last night, and I can understand why you changed my report.  Mind you, I am not letting you off the hook, because what you did hurt me.  But, I'm not going to be stubborn and let this ruin any chance we have to be happy.  I'm not willing to give up the good times we've shared together.  I have missed you, Kevin, and I don't want to lose you.  If you are willing to put this behind us, and make this a loving relationship from now on, I would like to take this to the next level."

Kevin smiled, "That is what I always wanted, Kyle.  I thought I lost you.  You've made me very happy.  I know in my heart that we will be a happy couple."  He leaned over the table and kissed Kyle tenderly.

Kyle grinned from ear to ear, "That was a good first kiss, and there are going to be many more from now on.  Well, it looks like we are going to be busy for the next two days moving my things back to the town house.  Are you going to tell your Dad about us?"

"I want to, but that's up to you."

Kyle said, "He's going to know something is up when I move back to the town house.  Look, I think he should know that we are a couple.

Kevin said, "I think he will be surprised, but not shocked.  He is a smart old bird.  Don't you think he was just a bit curious that we lived together for six years and were never involved in any female relationships?  He knows that I'm gay, and he will not be annoyed when he learns that we are a gay couple.  If we give him some grandchildren he will be content.  We can discuss that on our honeymoon."

"I think you're right," Kyle said, "we should tell him next week."

Kevin chuckled, "Do you want me to help you pack up the stuff to take back to the town house?"

Kyle laughed out loud, "You know, you are something else.  If you must know, I have not had the heart to unpack anything.  The boxes are still in the barn and my clothes are at the hotel."

Kevin said, "We can call Ming, and have him move your clothes and personal things back to the townhouse."

"Good, then we can spend the rest of the weekend getting to know each other better," Kyle said.

Kevin agreed, "I'm for that."

"Let's do it, baby," Kyle said.

The End


Posted: 03/21/14