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Monday, January 18, 2016

TLR Chapter 51

Five days later Ricky Gonzales wound his way up to the resort after stopping in Stonemill to talk to Scott and get directions. He was not a happy man. Troy had gotten into some kind of trouble just about everywhere they stopped along the way. He had been rude to gas station attendants or to the clerks, had gone off to bars at the towns they’d stayed in after Ricky had gone to bed, had gotten into a couple of fights and the authorities were gracious about him just paying a fine and taking his Niño with him as they weren’t going to stay in the town. Troy had been sullen and grouchy as they hit Stonemill and had refused to get out of the truck to meet Scott. Ricky was totally fed up and didn’t think even a couple of weeks at the resort would change anything. He pulled up to the administration office and said, “Get out. We need to check in.”

Troy glared at him. “You do it for both of us.”

Ricky reached in and grabbed Troy by the arm and dragged him out of the truck. “I’ve had just about enough out of you Niño…I oughta beat the living daylights out of you!”

Troy didn’t cringe, but put on a front of bravado. “Go ahead. Then we’ll both get kicked out of here and we can go back home and have more fun than here!”

James frowned as he saw the new arrivals. Jeff had told him there would be a new couple visiting TLR and from the looks of things they would need a lot of help. He approached them quietly and asked, “May I help you? I’m James Harrington, owner of TLR.”

Ricky turned quickly at the man’s words and blushed a bit under his brown skin. “Yes, I’m Ricardo Juan Gonzales and this is Troy Nelson Temple, my partner. Folks call me Ricky and him either TNT or Dynamite.”

James nodded and extended a hand to each man. “Glad to meet you Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Temple. If you'll come this way I’ll introduce you to my manager Jeff Markham.” James led the way to Jeff’s office and knocked on the door.

"Come in, the door is open." Jeff called amiably.

James opened the door and poked his head in. "I found our new guests outside Jeff." He opened the door and allowed Ricky who still had a grip on Troy's arm to go in ahead of him before shutting the door behind them.

Jeff put aside the papers he'd been looking at, his smile faltering just a bit as he saw the scene before him. He had always disliked Tops who manhandled their Brats, but he didn't know enough about what was going on to make a judgement.

"Please, gentlemen, have a seat. Make yourselves comfortable." Jeff said, gesturing the men to the couch to the left of his desk.  He and James moved to sit on the chairs across from the two newcomers.

Ricky said, "Thank you." He went over to the couch and pulled Troy down beside him. Troy immediately tried to put some distance between them but Ricky glared angrily at him. "Don't." He snarled.

Troy glared at Jeff. "I'm not comfortable and I think this is nothing but a whole lot of bullshit."  Ricky turned and raised his hand to slap Troy.

James interceded, catching Ricky by the wrist. "Here now Mr. Gonzales, that's not necessary."

Ricky looked up at James. "He's bein' rude and using foul language." He growled at James.

 James glanced at Jeff and said, "There are other ways to deal with that which are more effective Sir...I believe from your letter that is the purpose for your visit to Teardrop Lake Resort?"

Ricky sighed and rubbed his face with his free hand. "'s been a really bad five days getting here. Troy was almost arrested twice and has been acting out the whole way in every town we've been in, speaking rudely to everyone in his path and frankly I'm sick of it and at the end of my rope." He said.

James nodded and released Ricky’s wrist and the man put his hands in his lap, linking his fingers together to prevent himself from doing anything more he might be corrected for in front of Troy.

Troy sulked sullenly. "None of that is their business." He said snarkily.

Jeff had been sitting quietly during the exchange, letting James do what he did best. But this brat was the sort who gave Brats a bad name and he could sit still no longer.

"This is a place to feel safe, Mr. Gonzales, but we can't allow you to strike Mr. Temple in anger or frustration. I believe that you've both come to the right place and at the right time." Said Jeff.

Troy looked at Jeff. "Why don't you just shut up old man? You don't know us and you ain't got any right to say anything.”

James arched an eyebrow. "I'd change your attitude little boy."

Troy snarled. "What are you going to do big man? Beat me?"

"No one is going to beat anyone here, Mr. Temple." Jeff reassured the angry young man.  He glanced at James with a significant look before turning his attention back to the men sitting before him.

James shook his head. "No, here at Teardrop Lake Resort we don't use physical size to intimidate or overpower those we care about."

Troy said smugly, "Scared big man?"

James looked at Jeff. He took a deep breath and said, "Not hardly Troy. I know it's not the right way to handle things. We have lots of big men here and the ones that aren't as big aren't worried about them using their physical size against them. There are better ways and hopefully you and Ricky can learn these ways."

Ricky nodded. "Yes, that's why I've come and hopefully Troy and I can learn together."

Troy frowned. "There ain't nothing wrong with the way we've been."

Ricky looked at Troy. "When we're at each other's throats all the time and not happy? Can you honestly tell me you want to live the next forty years or more that way?"

Troy shrugged. "It's what we're used to."

Ricky sighed and looked disappointed and defeated. "Maybe this wasn't such a good idea after all." He said quietly to the two other men.

Jeff looked at James and mouthed the word 'Duke', and smiled at Troy in a way that seemed to unsettle the younger man.

James winked at Jeff.

Troy squirmed a little at the look he was getting from Jeff.

"We've dealt with men far more difficult and we have to admit to a high success rate, Mr. Gonzales. I believe we can help you. It will take some time, but I believe you will both go home happier for it."

James said, "Ricky, if you love Troy, don't give up. It will be hard for a while, but if you hang in there with us things will get better."

Ricky looked from Jeff to James, a little hope reflected in his brown eyes. "You really think so?"

"I believe so," Jeff replied. "It's going to take cooperation on both your parts, but I know, if you're really dedicated, this will be a good experience for the two of you."

James nodded. "You both have some things to learn, and Jeff and I as well as our resident physician Heath and others who live and work here will assist in any and all ways necessary. I'll take you over to the infirmary to be checked over and then to your assigned bungalow."

Ricky nodded.

Troy stiffened at the mention of the doctor. "I ain't gotta go see no doctor. I'm healthy enough."

James said quietly, "We need a health history on each guest just in case you were to get hurt or ill while here at the resort."

Ricky gave Troy a look that spoke daggers and Troy sighed. "All right." He capitulated as Ricky also tightened his grip on Troy's arm.

James said, "As soon as you both sign the non-disclosure agreements and the rules and get registered we'll go."

Troy frowned. "More rules?"

"Every place has rules, Mr. Temple." Jeff said quietly. "They're in place for your safety as well as the safety of the other guests here. We expect them to be followed."

Troy heard what Jeff said and shrugged. "I'll decide which I'll follow and which ones are dumb."

Ricky glared at Troy again and began a tirade in Spanish. The young man shrugged. "Whatever Ricky."

James itched to pull the young man up and apply a half dozen stingers to his bottom.

Before Troy or Ricky could answer, there was another knock at the door, and Mutt walked in without being invited. He looked surprised when he saw James and the two newcomers sitting across from Jeff.

James smiled. "Hello Mutt. Good to see you. These are our new guests, Mr. Gonzales and Mr. Temple."

Ricky smiled at the smaller man. "Hello Mutt, my name is Ricky and this is my partner Troy."

Before Mutt could greet them properly, Troy gave Mutt a look. "How come you're called a dog? Do they lead you around on a leash or something?"

Mutt grit his teeth but managed a smile. It wasn't as though it was the first time someone had said something like that to him.  "No, but I know where we can get you a muzzle."  He replied smoothly.

Troy said, "Yeah and I'm sure you can show me all the best places to pee too."

Ricky reached out and slapped Troy hard across the face before James had a chance to prevent it.  Troy got angry and sullen. He didn't even attempt to rub the red spot that showed on his cheek. "Silencio!" Ricky barked at Troy, his brown eyes dark with anger.

Mutt's jaw dropped open when he saw the scene before him. Jeff had never slapped him across the face or spoken to him like that. He felt a little compassion for the angry young man that he hadn't felt a moment ago.

"Um, I'd better go. It wasn't that important. I'll talk to you later, Jeff, OK?"

"Go on, honey, we'll talk later." Jeff said as he watched Mutt back out of the room.

James put an arm around Mutt and said quietly as he left, "They're having a hard time. I love you Mutt." He tousled the young man's hair affectionately.

Mutt gave James a grateful smile and continued on his way.

"Mr. Gonzales, I'll ask you not to do that in my office... or anywhere on TLR property for that matter, during the duration of your stay. Am I understood?" Jeff asked, pinning the man with a stern look.

Ricky looked at Jeff and the icy tones. He couldn't help but respond quietly, "Yes Sir...I'm sorry Sir."

Troy gave a smug grin as Ricky was chastened by the manager.

"And you, Mr. Temple, will stop goading him, and everyone else around you. Verbal abuse is frowned upon every bit as much as physical abuse, do you understand me?" Jeff asked, pinning Troy with a similar gaze.

Troy looked at Jeff and with more bravado than he felt said, "I'll think about it."

Ricky's eyes flared with anger once more, but he kept his hands to himself.

James went over, placed a hand on Ricky's shoulder and gently squeezed in silent support.

Ricky looked up at James, grateful for the support.

James gave Jeff a silent communication that said, too bad he's not ours or he'd get swatted by now.

Jeff smiled wryly at his friend and then turned his attention back to the men before him. "We haven't lost a couple yet," Jeff reassured him. "I think that the classes we offer will help the two of you understand your needs better."

James said quietly, a thought coming to him, "Maybe, Jeff, we should give Ricky a demonstration on how TLR handles young men like Troy." 

Jeff thought about that for a few moments before turning to Ricky.  "Mr. Gonzales, would you please come with me a moment to the outer room?" He asked.

Ricky stood as James removed his hand from the man's shoulder and followed Jeff to the outer room.

Once he'd led Ricky out of the room, he closed the door and turned toward the young man. "There are ways to discipline your partner without becoming abusive. It's clear that Troy has a serious attitude problem, I'm not sure where it came from but I do know it has to stop here, otherwise you're both going to be miserable. It seems to me that one way or the other he's sabotaging your relationship and testing your authority. You have two options here." Jeff began.

"One, you can continue to allow Troy to behave in that destructive manner, or two, you can first talk to him, and if that doesn't work, then you have to discipline him. Not abuse, discipline. There's a big difference.  I suggest that you take some classes before you do that, though.  You'll need to learn how to discipline him properly, and he's going to have to learn to discipline himself, and to take correction from you when it's needed."

Ricky nodded. "He's been getting worse and worse lately. I've taken my belt to him a couple of times and even switched him once, but it didn't seem to help. It seemed to make things worse. I'm at my wits end. I love him and want to be with him. He's always been able to get by with everything, being the youngest and the smallest in his family. I think he has an attitude because of his size, but that shouldn't matter." Ricky said miserably.

"Small Man's Syndrome, over indulged by his family.  You'll have to teach him that height and age are just numbers and mean nothing to the people who love him, and you do love him, I can see that. The question is, does he love you enough to change?  That's up to him.  You won't be together long if he doesn't, and I'd hate to see that happen to you."

"You'll have to try talking to him first. If he's unreceptive and rude, then you have to remain calm. Never strike in anger. Understand?"

Tears lurked in Ricky's eyes. He said, "I hope he loves me the to him?" He asked. "What do I say?"

"Start by telling him that you love him. Tell him that his behavior and attitude are hurting you, and that you can't live with it much longer. Tell him that if he loves you he'll try harder to change, otherwise you don't see a future for the two of you."

“You mean, I should threaten to leave him? I don't want to do that." Ricky said, somewhat shocked and slightly upset at the thought.

"Can you see a future with someone who is abusive? Who seems to want to be abused in return?  There's no need to threaten him, just tell him calmly how you feel.  Will you do that?"

Ricky looked stricken and swallowed hard. "I can do that. I pray he will be receptive to that. If he isn't...what do I do? Just leave?"

"If he loves you as much as you love him, it will be a wakeup call for him and he'll at least consider it.  After that I suggest you both attend classes together.  Actual discipline between you can wait until you have a better handle on what it means, compared to what you've been doing."

"And Ricky..."

Ricky looked up sadly at the other man. "Yes?"

 "Remember, remember to never strike in anger. A belt or a switch, which I don't personally like having been on the receiving end of both at one time or another, are only reserved for major infractions. Attitude is not a major infraction and is normal for someone who is afraid, much as I believe Troy is right now."

Ricky listened and then asked, "He's afraid? Of me? Of what?"

"I believe he's afraid of losing you so he's pushing you away, testing you. You have to show him you're not going anywhere. I read in your files that you've been together for three years, and from what I've seen you tend to strike in anger which only makes him angry, am I right?"

Ricky nodded, "Yes, you are right."

"Show him in other ways that you love him. Do you hug him often? Do you kiss him 'just because'? Do you caress him?  Once he's assured of your love, I believe he'll stop lashing out the way he has been.  And after that he'll be more manageable."

Ricky thought about it. "I usually do those things, but with the roundup taking all our time and his behavior on the road trip out here we haven't done much of any of that."

"Then let's finish getting you two registered and checked out. Spend the night getting reacquainted, and take tomorrow to relax and get to know the resort. There is plenty of time for classes the day after. All right?"

Ricky gave Jeff a small smile. "Alright. That sounds like sound advice."

"And remember, we're here for you, James and myself as well as Heath, our doctor, and any number of instructors. If Troy is unwilling to attend a class with you at first, go on your own and learn what you can about yourself."

Ricky nodded. "Yes, I'll do that."

"Good man. Remember, no matter what he does, don't strike in anger. If you need to, a couple of attention getting swats on the behind might be all you need. Use your best judgement."

Jeff placed a reassuring hand on the man's shoulder. "We really do have a very good success rate, Ricky, you just need to hang in there. He'll come around."

"What would be the best thing to do when I am angry and want to kill him?" He asked seriously.

"My husband pushes me sometimes as well." Jeff smiled understandingly. "If he doesn't settle down and you feel that way, distance yourself. Go into another room and let him calm himself.  Play solitaire, have a drink, make something to eat. Just don't strike when you're angry."

Ricky nodded, "That sounds like something I can do, but in a situation like before? Where we're in public?"

"Take the lead. Leave. He'll follow. Just don't let him egg you on into a public display. Get into your car and without doubt he'll get in as well. That's when you can try to talk to him. If he's still agitated, then go home where it's more private and talk to him.  You can simply tell him that until he calms down you won't get into it with him."

Ricky nodded. "All right I can try to do those things."

"Have you ever seen the Star Wars movie, Ricky?" Jeff smiled, patting the man's shoulder.  "Mutt has made me watch it a million times. There's a line there that I love.  'Do, or do not. There is no try.'  Just remember that."

Ricky said, "That's a good idea. That until he calms down I'm not going to discuss it."

"Distancing yourself will give you time to calm down as well. Once you stop lashing out in anger, then the odds of him doing it will go down as well. I'm glad you were so receptive to what I had to say. Thank you for listening.  I think we should go back in now, if you're ready?"


James waited until Jeff and Ricky left and then turned to the younger man. " you love Ricky?"

Troy looked at James like he was crazy. "Yeah I love him."

James asked softly, "Then why are you making him miserable?"

Troy scowled. "He always yells at me or hits me or grabs me. I hate that."

James asked, "Why don't you tell him how that feels when he hurts you like that...physically or emotionally. Some of the things he says to you hurt you?"

Troy shrugged, not wanting to admit to that.

James nodded. "It's hard to tell the person you love that they're hurting you." He said softly.  “If you don't and just stay angry, then it makes you both miserable."

Troy thought about what James had said and nodded.

James said, "Think about the relationship between you and Ricky, where you want it to be and what you'd like to see it become, and tell him. Then the two of you can work together to accomplish that."

Troy looked at James as though he was a little crazy. "I don't see how? He's stubborn and he flares like a firecracker and explodes just as quickly."

James refrained from chuckling and asking the kid to look who's calling the kettle black and said instead, "It takes two people to make a relationship and two to break one. Both of you have to want it and to be willing to work at it. Relationships are work."

James sat there with Troy companionably, letting him think about the things he had said.


It felt like an hour had gone by before Jeff and Ricky returned to the office. Ricky looked at his partner and sat down beside him with a small, apologetic smile. He took Troy's hand gently in his own and gave it a reassuring squeeze.

Jeff took his seat behind the desk and smiled at the men in the room. He could see that Troy was much calmer than he'd been. James had obviously spoken to him while they'd been gone.  "If you're ready now, we can fill out these papers and get you to see Heath. It won't take too long, and then you two can get settled in." he said.

Troy gave Ricky an apologetic smile as well and Ricky nodded. "Yes, I believe we're ready to sign the paperwork now." He looked at Troy. "Niño?"

Troy nodded. "Yes, I'm ready to sign."  

Jeff turned the papers toward the two men and waited while they read and signed them.

"Thank you, gentlemen. James, I'll be happy to bring them to Heath's office if you like."

James nodded. "All right Jeff, will you then get them settled in their bungalow?"

"My pleasure." Jeff smiled at his best friend.

James smiled. "Thank you I need to check on Jax. I'll check in with you later to see how things are going."

"Thanks James. We'll see you soon." Jeff said as he stood and gestured the two newcomers toward the door.

James said, "Thank you Jeff." He turned toward the two men and said, "Welcome to TLR.  If you need anything, don't hesitate to ask anyone on the staff for assistance."

Ricky said, "Thank you, and we will."

Troy said shyly, "Thank you Mr. Harrington."

James smiled at the younger boy, glad to see the red mark had faded from the boy's face.

Once Ricky and Troy had been seen by the doctor and were settled in their bungalow Ricky said, “Troy, let’s go into the living room and talk for a bit. I’d like to share some things with you.”

Troy shrugged. “All right.”

Ricky got a couple of bottles of lemonade he had picked up at the lodge restaurant bar and handed one to Troy.

Troy smiled. “Thanks. You remembered I like lemonade.”

Ricky nodded. “Sorry it’s not homemade, but it was the best I could do and it’s a bit too early for beer.”

Troy nodded and waited for Ricky to begin.

Ricky said, “Troy, when I was growing up at the ranch my mom and dad were good people, but there were six of us boys and they were very strict with us.”

Troy listened. “My mom and dad weren’t very strict with me at all. They pretty much let me do whatever I wanted to.”

Ricky said, “That wasn’t good for you any more than my parents being so strict with me. They took the saying spare the rod and spoil the child literally and didn’t spare anything. My dad strapped all us boys and Mama wasn’t above switching us good. They would slap us too. It’s all I’ve known as discipline while growing up. I’m hoping to learn some better ways here through the classes they offer. I’m hoping you will take some of them with me.”

Troy shrugged. “I’m not much for taking notes and I hated school, so don’t expect too much.”

Ricky nodded. “All right Troy, I’m not going to force you but I hope you will want to do it for us.”

Troy nodded. “All right.” The young man was very used to getting his own way in things.

Ricky took this as at least a sign of a little cooperation and maybe something they’d be able to build on. If Troy did refuse he’d do as Jeff said and attend the classes anyway.

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