Friday morning the lads all woke on time and were down for breakfast in record time.
"Morning, boys," called out the man, as the lads began to enter the Kitchen Nook. "What has you down here so early?" teased Mr. Ken.
"Oh, nothing," teased back Charles.
Robert and the twins went over to the man and hugged him before sitting down to eat.
"So ... tomorrow is the BIG day, huh?" Mr. Ken teased some more.
"So, what's so good about tomorrow, 'dad'?" asked Charles, in teasing the man back.
"Ohh, I don't know ... maybe the fact that a bunch of crumb crunchers talked me into taking a whole slew of their friends over to SeaWorld this Saturday for something called Howl-O-Scream," replied 'dad' Ken.
"Hey, we're not crumb crunchers, 'dad'. You won't let us eat anywhere in the house but here, so how can we make crumbs?" challenged Kyle.
"And you better remember that, young man!" teased 'dad' Ken.
After the Covers sat and ate their breakfast for a few minutes, Mr. Ken looked up and said, "Boys ... now don't let tomorrow's trip fog your brain and keep you from focusing on your lessons today. I know you all are a bit hyped over the trip to SeaWorld ... but you need to get through the day first. OK? Please try to stay under the radar. I do not want to be called to the school today because you aren't paying attention in class," laughed 'dad' Ken.
At first, the twins thought 'Dad Ken' was going to yell at them, but after he finished they knew he was just trying to make a point for them not to let the SeaWorld trip distract them in class today.
Robert had been around his 'dad' long enough to know the man usually just stated the obvious just to let him know he was aware of what was happening. As for Charles, he was usually the quiet type and didn't say much unless it was to tease the man back. Charles knew what his 'dad' was saying, so he just replied, "Yes, 'dad', we know what you mean." That was the end of that conversation.
As the lads were leaving to catch the school bus, Mr. Ken called out to them, "Boys ... remind your friends to be here by 9:45 and to bring a light jacket."
The lads waved to Mr. Ken as they continued up the slight incline to the Main Gate and the School Bus Stop that was just to the outside along the street that paralleled the longest wall of Three Finger Cove.
When the Cover lads arrived at school they were greeted by their many friends. The lads all split off to their corners of the schoolyard and talked. The first thing the lads told their friends, those who were going to SeaWorld the next day, was Mr. Ken told them to be at The Cove no later than 9:45 and to bring a light jacket.
It was Sam who told the twins and the rest of the lads going to SeaWorld that he'd bet that Mr. Ken would send another email to their parents to remind them to be there at 9:45 and to bring a jacket.
Even in Robert's group, it was Chuck who said something similar, and in Charles group it was James. All three groups had a good laugh over that.
It was while Charles' group was talking about their trip tomorrow that Leah Hoalmes stopped by. "I hear you are going to SeaWorld, tomorrow, Charlie. I sure hope you don't fall in and drown, or ... or the sharks don't eat you. Or maybe ... I do hope you do," snickered Leah, who then sauntered away.
"What was that all about?" asked David, while he and the rest of the 7th-grade lads watched.
"That was Leah, trying to make me mad, David," offered Charles. "She said I would say something or maybe do something that would get me into trouble. She said that back when she got herself in trouble. I guess ... I guess she got tired of waiting and was trying to get me to react to her insult by calling me Charlie," continued Charles. "I'll bet she has something else planned for me ... or maybe for Richard. She threatened, or maybe it was a promise, anyway, Leah threatened both me and Rich back during the second week of school."
"Charles, I don't know what her game is," started Cooper, "but you better ... you better be careful around her. And I'd watch over my shoulder, too. She thinks she is so superior to everyone because of her parents ... she tells everyone how rich they are and they give her anything she wants. She has most of the girls in this school following her and the ones who don't usually get her wrath when she feels like it," explained Cooper.
Charles thought back about what Leah said that first time and tried to comprehend what she meant by what she just said this time. Charles had never met any girls who were as pompous and into themselves as Leah is. He knew it was best to take Coop's recommendations to heart. He decided he better say something to his 'dad' when he got home from school. Then the first bell rang and everyone started into the school.
For the lads going to SeaWorld tomorrow the day dragged on for them. They couldn't wait until the lunch bell rang, so they could talk about what they would see and do at the amusement park.
At lunch, Robert did talk to his friends about going Trick-Or-Treating, but none of them said they were. Trevor said he'd probably be going out walking with his little brother and Brad said he probably would be doing that as well. Robert said he told his 'dad' that he'd go with the twins, but he wanted to know if any of them were going out, as his 'dad' called it 'begging for candy'. The group had a good laugh over that.
Charles had the same sort of conversation with his buddies. The Cover lad told his friends he told his 'dad' he wanted a costume, so he could go out 'begging for candy' as his 'dad' called it. The boys had a good laugh over that, too. Some of Charles' friends said they wanted to go out Trick-or-Treating, but weren't sure if their parents would let them. Some said their parents told them they were too old for that.
Back at The Cove, Mr. Ken took a phone call from Detective Joel Carrier. The detective told him that he talked to Parker Parchsons yesterday, and the man denied everything. Joel said the father denied everything even after he told him his twin sons told him what the three of them did in the shower. Joel said Parker told him that it was father/son bonding and he was talking to them about their bodies and what to expect as they grew older.
It was then that Mr. Ken told Joel that Robert thinks he was one of the men who had done those same things to him. Joel Carrier said he read that in Matthias' file, but he didn't understand how the two had met. Mr. Ken then told the detective the abbreviated version of how Robert came to live with him. Detective Carrier said that made sense to him, and now that he had two lads saying essentially the same thing, but Mr. Ken stopped him mid-thought.
Mr. Ken told the detective that Robert only heard Parker's voice and did not see his face that day they visited the Parchsons in the hospital. The owner of The Cove told Joel that Robert said he felt like he knew the man, but until he saw a picture of him he couldn't be sure.
Mr. Ken told Detective Carrier how Robert looked through the house that day they met trying to find a picture, but the teen only found a photo that only sort of looked like the man he went with almost three years ago. The owner of The Cove told the detective that until he could see the man in person he wouldn't know for sure.
The detective thanked Mr. Ken for that piece of information, but he had one more thing to tell Mr. Ken. The detective told Mr. Ken he had a lead on the two boys the twins identified and had planned to catch them after school today or first thing in the morning. Detective Carrier also told Mr. Ken he identified the man who sold houses and was going to talk to him as well.
Mr. Ken asked if the detective had arrested Parker Parchsons, yet.
The Bandera County Detective said he would have to wait until he had much better and more definitive information that he could take to his DA to get the arrest warrant. Mr. Ken asked him if he was able to get a search warrant for the house and the man's computer, but Joel Carrier said he needed a good reason to arrest the man before he could get the search warrant for the computer.
In the end, Detective Carrier said he hoped that after the weekend's interviews he planned he would have what he needed to make the case against the twins' dad and then go forward with the arrest and a search of the house. Mr. Ken thanked him for the call and information and said he would tell the twins when they got back home from school. That ended the call.
Mr. Chris came into the Study to reaffirm that the motor coach would be there at approximately 9:30 tomorrow morning and would turn around before loading any passengers. The Estate Manager also told Mr. Ken he would meet him and the group at about 12 noon tomorrow at the Will Call Window. Mr. Chris also told his boss he was going to have Momma Maria buy the Halloween candy when she went to the stores next week to restock the pantry.
Mr. Chris also told Mr. Ken he was in contact with the company who decorated his home the past four Holidays. The Estate Manager told his boss the owner of the decorating company wanted to come out to show him what he had new this year to see if Mr. Ken was interested in using them for this year's Holiday. Mr. Ken told him to make the appointment.
It was while the two men were talking about that when the owner of The Cove asked Chris if he thought it would be too late to contact the nearby high school Career and Technology Education Departments to offer a prize to the group who could build an eight foot Toy Soldier/Nut Cracker using the street light poles in the driveway as their electric source and main support.
Mr. Chris was intrigued by what his boss was asking and after a few minutes of discussing it Mr. Chris said he'd contact the three closest high schools and attempt to talk to the departments that oversee construction learning. The Estate Manager also wanted to know what the prize would be, so he could use that as an enticement for the friendly competition.
Mr. Ken told Mr. Chris he'd have to ask what restrictions there were before he could announce a prize, but it would be a generous one. Mr. Ken told Chris that he would let the attendees to the Holiday parties vote on which one they liked the best, so it would be a fair and equitable competition. Mr. Chris said he even liked that part better as it would be a true unbiased vote.
Mr. Ken called Wayne to remind him to be early for dinner and not to forget his overnight bag for two nights. Wayne thanked the man for the call and said he would also bring a light jacket and then said he was surprised he hadn't gotten text message or an email.
That got Mr. Ken to thinking so he opened up his email account and composed a quick note to remind the parents to have their child over to The Cove by 9:45, in the morning, and for the boy to bring a light jacket, or sweater, in case it got cooler at night. He also reminded them that since he expected the lads to split up into their own age groups their son would need some money for snacks and drinks and any other things they may wish to buy while they are at SeaWorld. He additionally told the parents he was going to feed their son at dinner time, so for them not to worry about the boy going too hungry. The last thing he told the parents was they did not expect to be back to The Cove before midnight.
Mr. Ken spent the rest of the day on the phone with his construction foremen getting progress reports on his two current building projects. He made additional phone contact with his architectural group wanting to get updates on where they were in the approval process for his apartment complex. After those phone calls, he recognized his absence from the day-to-day working of his construction and architect groups was keeping him out of the loop. He knew phone calls just weren't enough for him to stay current and on top of what was happening in his 'empire'. He laughed at himself as he used the word 'Empire' as describing his undertakings.
When the boys came home that Friday, they were beside themselves. They just couldn't hold their exuberance in knowing that they were going to SeaWorld tomorrow. Momma Maria knew where they were going and had made a special dessert for them that afternoon, Banana Pudding with Vanilla wafers swimming in the pudding. She was also going to serve vanilla milk with the pudding as the lads really took to the different flavored milk.
The boys went directly to Mr. Ken after they got home. They wanted to know if everything was still on schedule for tomorrow, and if anyone had cancelled out. Mr. Ken told the lads that no one he knew had cancelled and that everything was still on schedule to leave at 10 AM tomorrow. He then told them they needed to get their snacks from Momma Maria and then their homework done, so they'd have the whole weekend to themselves.
It was Robert who reminded his 'dad' that because it was a Holiday weekend, the teachers didn't give them any homework they had to do, but they gave them something they could work on to get ahead of the class when they got back. Mr. Ken thought about that for a few moments and then asked the lads to try to get some of the extra work done because it would greatly help them in their studies and better prepare them for their lessons and following tests. The boys all smiled as they went to get their after-school snack.
When the lads came down for dinner that night, they'd forgotten Mr. Wayne was spending the night and going with them to SeaWorld the next day. They asked him if he brought his swimsuit and he said that indeed he had. The boys said they all hoped they all could swim for a while before going to bed. They told their 'dad' that the swim will tire them out and that will make them sleep better, and since they don't have to be up at 6 they can catch up on their beauty sleep. Mr. Ken said he'd think about it. They all knew they'd be going swimming for a little while anyway.
Dinner was spicy Mexican fried fish, Spanish red rice and borracho beans served with a Mexican style tartar sauce. Momma Maria also had made fresh flour tortillas if they wanted to make a burrito instead of eating off the plate. For dessert, the woman also served Mexican Brownies and a Tres Leches Cake. Again, no one at the dinner table that evening went away hungry.
Mr. Ken told the boys they had to let their dinner settle before they could go swimming. He asked them to gather in the Study, so he could talk to them. When they were all there, including Mr. Wayne, 'Dad Ken' told the twins what he learned from Detective Carrier that day.
The twins said they weren't too surprised when 'Dad Ken' told them the detective needed more collaborating evidence before he would arrest their dad. The lads asked if they were going to visit their parents that weekend and all Mr. Ken could tell them was that he needed to coordinate that with the detective, so they didn't mess things up for the man.
The swim that night was fun for everyone but Kyle. The two adults only had three lads to contend with and three lads got all the attention they ever wanted that night. The adults played some of the kid's games with them and they also jumped off the overhanging rock. All Kyle could do was watch but he was out there cheering on his 'brothers' when the adults and the 'brothers' played their games. In the end, they also just swam and relaxed while they talked before the lads were sent up to bed by 10 PM.
Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne talked in the Study for a few minutes before they too went up to bed.
Ken began explaining to Wayne more of the why he needed another adult to be available for him to call on. Ken described how he was beginning to be spread too thin due to the construction and architect teams feeling the void of his not being readily available to them as much as they would like.
The owner of The Cove also told Wayne how his amusement parks were badgering him to come visit and he told Wayne how he just couldn't pack up and leave in the middle of the week, or even take the lads with him. Ken asked Wayne to consider being his 'go-to-adult', so he could be more involved in his endeavors. Wayne said he'd sleep on it, but he did have a number of questions and maybe they could talk over the weekend about it. Mr. Ken smiled at that prospect.
The boys were up at 8 AM. They had gotten a good ten hours of rest and sleep and they were ready and raring to go. Of course, Mr. Ken was at the Kitchen Nook table, reading his morning newspaper, when the lads finally came down after getting cleaned up and dressed.
"Morning, 'dad'," called out Robert, as he went over to hug the man.
"Good Morning, 'dad'," called out Charles, as he too went over and hugged the man.
"Morning, 'Dad Ken'," called out Kevin, who also hugged the man.
Kyle wanted to say good morning, but he wasn't sure if he should say 'Dad Ken' or just 'dad'. He pondered that the entire time the other lads were saying their 'Good Mornings' to Mr. Ken, so when it was his time he had decided.
"Good Morning 'dad'," said Kyle, as he hugged the man, who hugged him back and whispered into his ear, "Thank you!"
Kyle waited for his older twin to say something, but it never came. Kevin didn't even look in his direction. Kyle was happy for that, but he figured his twin would wait until there was no one around before he got onto him for calling Mr. Ken 'dad' instead of 'Dad Ken' as they had agreed when they first visited their mom.
Momma Maria was off the entire three-day Holiday Weekend, so the lads were on their own for breakfast. There were the frozen breakfast burritos, three different brands of cereal, or toast and three different kinds of jelly for the boys to pick from and, of course, cold milk. It was while the Cover lads were trying to decide what to eat for breakfast that Mr. Wayne came into the Kitchen Nook.
"Good Morning, everyone," called our Wayne Mitchell.
The boys all said Good Morning to the man and went back to trying to decide what to eat. Mr. Wayne heard them discussing their choices and he just asked if he could have two breakfast tacos. Robert asked him which type and he said he didn't care. Robert then pulled out two for Mr. Wayne, three for him and then he asked his 'dad' if he wanted any and learning he wanted three as well the lad took out a total of eight tacos.
Charles saw his older 'brother' taking out a number of tacos and asked him if any of them were for him. Robert said he hadn't told him to take some out for him, so he hadn't. Charles then went over to the freezer and took out three breakfast tacos for himself. He then asked the twins if they wanted any. Kyle looked to Kevin and then back to Charles and said they wanted three each.
Robert took all 17 breakfast tacos, unwrapped them and placed them on a very large plate and placed them all in the microwave. He told everyone it would be at least ten minutes before they tacos were ready. That entire time Mr. Ken hadn't said a word.
When it was time to eat their tacos, Robert just passed them out to the people who asked for them. He told them he didn't remember which was which, but they were all good and to just shut up and eat. He received a scowl from Kevin and a laugh out of Mr. Wayne and a 'Thank You' from 'dad' Ken. The Covers and their guest ate in peace.
It was about 9 o'clock when the front doorbell rang. Then, they all heard someone opening the Foyer door and Chief went looking. Then they heard walking and doggie paws on the tile as they came towards the Kitchen Nook. The boys couldn't figure out who it could be, so they waited to see who it was.
Mr. Ken knew who it was, so as the steps got closer Mr. Ken called out, "Good Morning, Dan" without looking up from his newspaper. And just as Mr. Ken said that, Dan Fischer walked into the Kitchen Nook.
The boys' laughed when they saw Mr. Dan walk into the Kitchen Nook. They all said 'Good Morning' to the man, but Kyle went over and hugged him. "Thank you, Kyle, for the hug. At least someone around here cares about me," coughed and then laughed the Sheriff's Lieutenant.
Mr. Ken told Dan to get himself a cup of coffee, as he was going to get cleaned up. Dan and Wayne talked while the owner of The Cove got ready for the long day ahead of them all. It was while Mr. Ken was back in his en-suite that the phone rang. Dan answered it only to learn the gate guard wanted to know if he should let the motorcoach into the estate grounds. The guards knew that Dan was a Sheriff's Lieutenant and something of a regular at The Cove. They also knew he had authority to make decisions, so getting the OK from him was like getting the OK from the 'man' himself.
When the lads heard the motor coach was there they wanted to go out and watch it turn around. Mr. Dan said it would be OK, but for them to stay on the outside Foyer steps so the bus driver didn't have to worry about four lads getting run over. The boys said they would stay close to the house as they all hurriedly walked to the Foyer door.
"Dan, how did you know what to say to the guard, and then to the boys?" asked a curious Wayne.
"I think just common sense prevailed there, Wayne. Why do you ask?" asked a now curious Dan.
"Oh, well, Ken asked me to be his 'go-to-adult' when he can't always be here with the boys. He told me last night that his amusement parks are bothering him to come and visit for their Spook-Tac-U-Lairs. I told him I'd think about it, but I have a few, or maybe more than a few questions about what the job would entail," explained Wayne.
"Well now, that is a good thing," started, Dan. "Ken and I talked about him needing another responsible adult he can entrust the boys to when he needs to be elsewhere. He almost didn't take Robert and Eric on their promised summer trip to visit his amusement parks because he'd taken Charles in who couldn't travel out of the state for another month, or so, and by then school would have started.
"You know I was having breakfast here the morning they were discussing just that. So, I just volunteered for the job. Wayne, I loved it here. I got to know the boys and their friends, but I also got to do things with them too. I took some of them to Six Flags and then to SeaWorld. Plus, the big bonus was I also got to use the PWC's and the Commander. If you decide to take the position my bet is you'll also get to use the amenities here, as well" chuckled Dan.
"Where did you stay?" asked Wayne.
"Oh, I used the guest en-suite on the right as you walk into that section of the upstairs. Is that the one you're using?" asked a smiling Dan.
"Well, to be honest, I've used both of them now, and I do believe that one is the better of the two," smiled Wayne. "But, didn't you feel like a third wheel being here? I mean when Mr. Ken was here. Didn't you feel out of place, some?"
"Hmmm, let me look back at my weeks while I stayed here. You know, I didn't actually. Chris and I talked a lot, and the kids ... they tried to engage me in their activities, like swimming. If you do decide to take Ken up on the position you'll see he sticks to his Study like glue," replied Dan.
"He is very busy with that office building and hotel he has going up out by the lake. He is also working on building apartments out at Four Corners which also has him very busy. On top of that, I know he wants to make sure the kids are looked after and taken care of, so he hasn't been as involved with them as I know he wants to be."
"Yeah, that's what he told me yesterday," offered Wayne.
"As for the kids, they love it when they have an adult do things with them. They love the attention they get. They are also at the age they are enjoying all the things that Ken has to offer them, like the Go-Kart track, and miniature golf and not to forget the good food at the Four Corners Restaurant and Diner.
"Wayne, if you get to stay here for any length of time, you'll have to watch your waistline. Momma Maria makes some awesome food and if you overeat you'll be buying new clothes," laughed Dan. "I know ... that is what happened to me. I had to buy a few new shirts for work because I'd outgrown the ones I had," again laughed Dan.
Wayne was getting some of his questions answered by a man who'd been there and done that. Wayne was happy Dan was open about his time he spent at The Cove. It gave Wayne a good feeling that he wouldn't be just another person hanging around The Cove.
The Cover lads watched the bus driver manipulate his 45-foot long motor coach into making a three-point turn, so the coach was now pointing up towards the Main Gate. When the driver stopped the bus, and set the air brakes, he left the motor running, so the air conditioning would have the inside comfortable for his passengers. The driver then came out of the bus and did a walk around to ensure everything was alright. The boys walked over to talk to the man.
Dan and Wayne continued talking about The Cove and what Wayne might be involved in if he took the position. Wayne mentioned that on Wednesday, Ken asked him to take Robert to his doctor appointment, as the twins had to talk to a detective out of Bandera County. Dan said that would be much of the things he might get to do besides staying there if Ken had to go away like to his amusement parks. Wayne then asked Dan how he handled the boys when Ken was not there. All Dan said was you 'Wing it'.
Ken came into the Kitchen Nook about that time and he heard Dan saying, "Wing it."
"What do you 'wing it', Dan?" asked Ken, as he went for a fresh cup of coffee.
"Wayne was asking me how I handled the boys when I was staying here, and I told him I just 'Winged it'," replied Dan. "What I didn't get to say was that since I don't have kids of my own that was what I actually was doing then. And, Wayne, the kids listen very well and they didn't play me against any of their other 'brothers' as they call them. I saw how Ken, here, treated them and just tried to mirror his style. I'm sure if you are here long enough you'll see how easy it is to direct the boys."
"So, I take it you're getting some of your questions answered, there, Wayne?" teased Ken.
"Well ... he was here for quite some time, so I figured he could give me a first-hand view of what went on back then, and how the kids reacted to him," answered Wayne.
The three men talked some more about what Ken was wanting Wayne to do for him, but before long the kids and chaperones began to arrive, so they had to break up their gab-fest and go outside to meet everyone.
The boys were gathered in their groups talking up a storm, when the men exited the house. The lads had brought with them a light jacket, and for that Mr. Ken was happy to see. The adult chaperones also gathered together and Mr. Ken went to them first.
"Good Morning, everyone. I hope the early wake-up time wasn't too bad for you," teased Mr. Ken. "Ok, let's see who I am missing, there's Frank, Judy, Dan, Wayne, Dan, Barbara and John, and yes, Emma. All my chaperones are here, I think."
It was then his cell phone rang. When Mr. Ken answered it he had Joyce on the other end. She apologized for the late call, but she was running way behind that morning and was just leaving the house with her son, Camm. She also asked Mr. Ken if she could beg out of being a chaperone that day. Joyce told him she was not feeling too well, and knew being out in the sun all day would not be good for her.
Mr. Ken told Joyce that he had more than enough chaperones and she could just drop Camm off and head on back home. The other adults heard the one-sided conversation, but could tell from what was said there would be one less chaperone. They also saw a smile come on Mr. Ken's face.
Mr. Ken then gathered up the boys and told them he wanted to do a headcount. He gathered Robert and his friends and called off the names: "Robert, Eric, Brad, Gordon, Chuck, Trevor, Logan, Cody and Josh. OK, that's 9. Charles get your friends together and line up, so I can count you: Charles, Camm, Asher, Mason, James, Jacob, Hunter, David, Dylan, Tyler, Cooper and Richard. OK, that's 12.
"OK, Kevin and Kyle and your friends are next, line up please: Kevin, Kyle, Sam, Terran, Dominic, Wyatt, Nicholas, Isaac, Nathan, Landon, Andrew, Grant, Blake, and Eli. That's 14, if my count is right. So, let's see 9 + 12 + 14 equals 35. Who do we have missing?" called out Mr. Ken.
Brant came over to the man told him he and Ryan's names were not called.
"Ok, that's two more for a total of 37. There are two more missing. Call out your names if I didn't' call it yet," yelled Mr. Ken.
"Mr. Ken you didn't call out my name and my friend, Conner's name," called out Todd Foster.
"Alright, that makes it 39 boys and 9 chaperone's, counting me, going to SeaWorld. Let's go and load up. We'll load the adults first, then Todd and Conner, then Brant and Ryan. I don't want the youngest lads to get lost in the sea of older lads," laughed Mr. Ken.
"OK, after them we'll load Robert and his friends, then Charles and his friends and finally the twins and their friends. Ready, GO!" called out Mr. Ken.
The motor coach pulled out of The Cove at 10:05 and Mr. Ken was happy they started on their trip essentially on time.
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