Breakfast wasn't the fun-filled conversation fest is usually is on a Friday. The boys were indeed down due to Mr. Ken's pending departure to visit his three back East amusement parks. Wayne was surprised at the quietness of the breakfast table as he'd been there when the boys were full of questions and remarks about the coming day.
"Oh, Robert," began 'dad' Ken, "I heard from Mr. Stewart yesterday and I forgot to tell you. He told me that they are going to do an Estate Sale starting next Friday and continuing on Saturday and Sunday at your house. After that, they will clean up the property and put it on the market to sell. Stewart tells me they expect a big turnout for the Estate Sale and that should increase interest on the property as there will be House for Sale signs all over with signup sheets for interested buyers. You understand what that means don't you?"
Robert kept his head down like he didn't hear what 'dad' Ken said to him. But Mr. Ken knew the teenager had heard him as he could hear the sniffles, and noticed a tear or two streaming down the lad's cheeks.
Mr. Wayne watched the interaction to get some insight into what to do and how to do it with the boys. He was particularly interested in what was happening right then and there. He didn't understand what was behind Mr. Ken's comment and his question to the teenager, so he continued to observe. Just then Robert pushed his chair back and he ran out of the Kitchen Nook. Mr. Ken soon followed the teen. Wayne decided to follow, but stay well behind and only observe, but not interfere with what Mr. Ken and Robert would do.
"Robert ... 'son' ... you knew this was going to happen," lightly counseled 'dad' Ken, as he held the crying teenager.
Robert continued to cry as he held onto 'dad' Ken with all his might. All Mr. Ken would do is hold the crying teenager and let him get it out of his system. The man also rubbed the teen's back hoping he could calm him down. Mr. Wayne just stayed back and remained quiet as he watched what was unfolding in front of him.
"'Dad', it still hurts to know what my mom and dad did to me and for what? Money? I ... I don't want the house to be sold and I don't care about the money I'll get for college. I ... I just want my old life back. Is that too much to ask, 'dad'?" said Robert, as he continued to cry.
"Oh, Robert ... I wish it was just that easy, 'son'. If it were, you'd be back there right now. But, well, we both know that is not how things like this work. Your dad did what he did and now ... and now he is paying the price for doing what he made you do ... just for money. I know this all hurts and I hope and pray that over time you will be able to move forward and put this way back in your list of memories. I'd tell you to talk to Doctor Doug about all this, and I know you will, but ... I'd also ask you to talk to your older 'brother' Collin.
"Robert, talk to him ... ask him how he's been able to push all that's happened to him way back into his mind. I know he'll never forget the trauma and hurt he's been through and the fact that he watched his parents being killed in front of him. Today, Collin, he seems to be very level headed and is pushing forward to his future. Maybe ... maybe he can give you some insight on how he was able to get to the point he's at right now," encouraged 'dad' Ken.
Wayne was surprised at how Mr. Ken softly talked to the teen as he continued to hold him and rub his back. The man knew quite a bit about each of the boys and he could use that as a stepping stone to calming and giving reason to his thoughts. Mr. Wayne only hoped he'd be able to do half of what his new boss can do.
Robert finally stopped his tears, looked into his 'dad's' eyes and said, "Thank you, 'dad'. You always know what to say and how to say it. I do understand that I can't go back, but it hurts to know that my mom and dad will be in prison at least until I graduate from high school. ... 'Dad' ... will I ... will, I ever be able, you know, to go visit my mom and dad?"
"I don't see why not," replied 'dad' Ken. "You have just as much right to see your relatives as the rest of the people have to visit theirs. But ... what say we let the Estate Sale go on and the house get sold before we jump into anything like that."
It was then the other Cover lads came to their 'dad' and Robert and told their older 'brother' they're going to miss the bus if they didn't hurry. It was then Mr. Wayne stepped up and asked Mr. Ken if he could take the truck and drive them to school to let Robert finish eating and get composed.
Mr. Ken thought that was a great idea and told Robert to go finish eating and then get cleaned up. He told the other boys to just relax and while they did that they were to explain to Mr. Wayne their school schedule and what time they absolutely had to be there by.
Mr. Wayne loaded the Cover boys into the F-150 and they left for school about ten minutes later than they would have if they'd taken the bus. Wayne Mitchell got another experience that morning as he drove the boys to their school. Traffic was slow and stop-and-go until he left the kids out about a block away from the school. He told them taking the school bus was far better as too many parents drove their rug-rats and caused the traffic congestion they were seeing. The boys thanked Mr. Wayne for the ride and they all ran to catch up with their friends.
Mr. Ken went to his bedroom and began packing for his four-day trip. He knew the nights back east in October got to be a bit cooler than they did there in Texas, so he made sure he had a jacket. He knew he could always buy another if it got way colder than he planned for.
Wayne got back to The Cove at about 8 AM and parked the truck back in its spot in the four-car garage. When he went inside Momma Maria greeted him with a cup of fresh coffee which he gladly accepted and thanked the woman for. Now, Mr. Wayne tried to figure out what he could do while he waited for the boys to get home from school. Then, he remembered all those forms Ms. Judy dropped for him to complete, so he went to the Study, retrieved them and took them back to the Kitchen Nook to finish filling them out.
It was about 9 AM when Chris came to work. Some days he came early and some days he came later but he got his job done and that was all Mr. Ken cared about. He sat down with Wayne and talked to the young college graduate as he filled out the forms.
"Applying for a credit card," joked Mr. Chris.
"Nope, Mr. Ken gave me a Black American Express credit card last night," smiled Wayne.
"Oh," was all Mr. Chris could say.
Wayne continued to fill out the forms and it was then that Chris saw the one form was an application to be a Foster Parent. That piqued his interest so he asked Wayne about it. Wayne smiled and told the Estate Manager that Ms. Judy wanted him to be a fully approved Foster Parent, so that way he could have more standing while he watched over the Cover lads. That brought about a few more questions from Chris and the two were talking about the Fostering program when Mr. Ken came back to the Kitchen Nook.
"Chris, the van should be here about 9, you say?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Yes, Mr. Ken, they said they'd' drop it off about 9 AM. Why?" replied Chris.
"Well, have Wayne check it out as he will be the principal driver over the weekend. My ride will be here about that same time, and since I won't be using the van I want Wayne to inspect the vehicle and take it for a test drive before he accepts it. Be there with him Chris, so he knows what is what," explained Mr. Ken.
It was about 9 AM when Derrick drove the limo into The Cove grounds and stopped in front of the Foyer door. The limo driver rang the doorbell and when it opened he took the bags waiting there and placed them into the trunk. Mr. Ken said his Goodbyes to the two men and it was then the 12 Passenger Mercedes Sprinter van entered the estate grounds.
School was a drag for Robert and Charles. They'd been around Mr. Ken longer than the twins and they were going to miss their 'dad' much more than their younger 'brothers'. Their friends saw the two Cover lads moping along during the day, so at lunch, they took them aside and asked them what the problem was. The two older Cover lads told their friends that their 'dad' was going away for the weekend and that Mr. Wayne was going to be there watching over them.
The Cover lads' friends couldn't figure out why that was a problem as they all liked Mr. Wayne. Robert told them that he just wished he could have gone along to visit the amusement parks again and that he was actually missing his 'dad'. Robert's friends told him he'd survive and that his 'dad would be home before he knew it.
Charles told his friends that he wanted to go along because he didn't get the chance to visit them when his other 'brothers' did back in August. Charles also told his friends that he was just being stupid for letting the fact that his 'dad' was going to be gone for the entire weekend get to him. Charles' friends tried to calm him down and explained that sometimes it was good that the kids get away from their parents. They told him it makes the reunion all that much better. Charles thought about that for a few moments and then said he understood what they meant and now he was looking forward to his 'dad's' return.
Later that morning, Ms. Judy stopped by The Cove to give Wayne his temporary Foster parent's papers. She also wanted to give Wayne a list of the next Foster Parenting classes, so he could sign up and get that item done before he gets too involved with the lads at The Cove. The two talked about what Wayne should do if one of the boys gets injured. Ms. Judy advised Wayne not to smother the lads by watching them like a hawk. She asked him to give the boys the space they were used to and they'd come to him if they had a problem or a question.
Wayne asked Ms. Judy what was he was to do while the boys were out playing with their friends. Judy suggested he get caught up on his reading and occasionally check up on the lads. Judy Turner told Wayne he didn't have to worry so much about the boys. She told him that those boys knew they had it good there and weren't about to do anything that would jeopardize that for them. Judy tried to reassure Wayne that ever since Robert came to live there none of their friends have ever been banned from coming over.
Wayne told Judy he felt a bit overwhelmed as this was his first time being solely responsible for the boys. He told the woman that he'd always been there as more of an observer and not the one in charge and now that he was doing it he felt he might be over his head. Judy told him he was just imagining things and that the boys are all good kids. She assured him the boys will enjoy his company and since he is the 'new' guy they will want to talk to him and learn more about him.
It was then that Chris came by and heard some of their conversation, so he added some stories about his encounters with the boys. Chris told Wayne that the boys are going to be interested in him and where he grew up and then some. Chris advised Wayne to just be open and honest with them and then they'll feel comfortable with him; he should also do the same with them.
Wayne thanked them both for their counsel and said he'd take all of their advice to heart. Then he told them if he ran out of ideas he'd just 'wing it'. That brought a big round of laughter and when they asked him why he said that, Wayne told him that was what Dan Fischer told him he did when he started to live there. That brought about another round of laughter.
The boys arrived home from school and immediately went to Momma Maria for their after-school snack. She served them the leftover Caramel Cinnamon Apple Enchiladas and Sopapilla Cheesecake Bars from the previous day with either chocolate or vanilla milk. She told the lads that they needed to be eaten so they didn't go bad.
The boys all smiled and told her they would have gotten eaten by their friends staying over that weekend. Momma Maria told the boys she'd forgotten they were having a sleep-over until the lads asked her why she made a gazillion cupcakes. All Momma Maris could do was laugh as she walked away.
After finishing their snacks and thanking Momma Maria for fixing it for them the boys headed to the Study. When they got there they'd forgotten Mr. Ken was away for the weekend. In his stead Mr. Wayne was sitting at their 'dad's' big desk there working on something on his laptop.
"Oh, hello, boys, I guess you're home from school, already, huh. I forgot to watch the time, so, now ... what do you usually do?" said Mr. Wayne.
"Well, 'dad' usually talks to us about our day and he tells us what he thinks is important and then he sends us up to get our homework done," replied Charles.
"Ohh, ok, so ... what happened at school? Anything interesting?" asked Mr. Wayne.
The boys all laughed. Mr. Wayne asked what was so funny and Kyle said he was. Kyle explained that it is so different with him there and not 'Dad Ken'. Kyle said they usually get a hug and they just talk. Mr. Wayne thought about that for a few moments then said, "OK ... who wants a hug?" The man then smiled.
Kyle looked to Kevin, who looked back. They then did their 'twin talk'. Charles looked over to Robert who had a smile on his face. Robert then walked over to Mr. Wayne and said he'd try one on for size. Mr. Wayne held open his arms and Robert went to him and got wrapped up in Mr. Wayne's arms.
"Hey, what about us?" called out Kyle.
Mr. Wayne opened his arms and Kyle, looking at Kevin, headed over to the waiting arms. Kevin and Charles followed close behind.
"Hey, this is different," said Kevin. "When 'Dad Ken' gives us our hugs he does them one at a time. This is kinda neat that we are hugging one another as well as you too, Mr. Wayne." The boys all agreed.
"They call this a Group Hug," smiled Mr. Wayne.
They stayed that way for a good 15 seconds and then they broke up their group hug. Mr. Wayne told the lads that Momma Maria had scheduled an early dinner for them and then they needed to get ready for their overnight guests. The 'boy manager' asked the lads to head up to their rooms and get their homework done and be washed up and down for 5:30 so they could eat. The lads said they'd be done before that. Mr. Wayne tapped them all on their heads as they began walking out of the Study.
Dinner wasn't as special as the evening before, but Momma Maria didn't disappoint them. As the group ate, Mr. Wayne asked the boys what they had planned for their friends that night. Charles said they'd probably would skate some and then go swimming. Kevin and Kyle said this was the first time they could remember ever having a friend spending the night and they just figured that'd watch what their older 'brothers' did and follow along.
Mr. Wayne waited for Robert to say something and when he didn't, he suggested the boys play some games, like Monopoly, or Life, or many different games of cards. Robert sort of snickered at the ideas, so Mr. Wayne asked him what he and Eric were going to do. Robert laughed some more and said they'd skate and then watch a movie and then swim and then have their late night snack and then go to bed.
"And then, and then, and then, don't you ever think 'outside the box'?" asked Mr. Wayne.
"What does that mean, think 'outside the box'?" asked Kyle.
"It means to look at things from a different angle, or you take an unusual approach at looking at the problem," spoke up Robert.
"But, what is the problem?" asked Kevin.
"The problem is 'What are we going to do with our friends?' if I get what that smirk on Mr. Wayne's face means," replied Charles.
"Yes ... Charles is right. I bet you always do the same thing each and every time. So, let me ask you. What would be completely different for you all to do? Remember ... there are only eight of you so ... so you're not having to please 27, just 8, and that includes you. Now, think outside of the 'box'," suggested Mr. Wayne.
Momma Maria came over to the Covers plus one and asked them if they were finished eating so she could clean up and leave for the weekend. Mr. Wayne asked the boys if they were done eating and learning they were, they all thanked Momma Maria for the fine dinner and they all headed to the Study.
"OK, what do we do to think outside this 'box' Mr. Wayne told us about?" asked Kyle.
"Well, what you do is start brainstorming the problem," spoke up Mr. Wayne.
"So, how do we do this brainstorming so we can start thinking outside this 'box'," asked Kevin.
That question lightened the mood with Robert and Charles laughing and Mr. Wayne smiling at the question.
"Kevin, when you brainstorm you ... you sort of speak out loud whatever comes to mind. In this case, we are wanting to think about what we could do differently tonight when your friends are here. It doesn't matter what it is as there are NO wrong answers," Mr. Wayne tried to explain.
"OK, I'll keep track of what people say," called out Robert, who then got up and went to the desk and pulled out a pad of paper and a pen.
"OK, let's start this. Say what you think would be fun to do with your friends. I'll go first, Trick-or-Treating," smiled Mr. Wayne.
"Hey, that's not until next weekend and we are going Trick-or-Treating with our 'brothers' and Charles' friend David," spoke up Kyle.
"Yeah, but 'dad' calls it 'begging for candy'" laughed Charles.
"Ok, ok, let's get back on track. Your friends will be here soon. Robert ... what do you have to say?" asked Mr. Wayne.
"Well ... we could put on the wetsuits and head out to the rafts for a little while. You know until it gets too dark," suggested Robert.
"Yeah, if Mr. Wayne has the Coast Guard training he could take us out on the Jet Ski and drive us back and forth," added Charles.
"Yes, but does he?" asked Robert, who then saw the man shaking his head he didn't.
"Ok, now I get it, "said Kyle. "We can say what we'd like to do and see if everyone likes the idea, right?" And getting nods from everyone, Kyle said, "I know what I'd like to do. You want to hear it?"
"That's what brainstorming is all about Kyle. We want to hear what you have to say," piped up Charles.
"Well ... I'd like us to go ... I wish we could go drive the Go-Karts," said a smiling Kyle. "How'd I do?"
Robert, Charles, and Kevin looked to Kyle as if he's just hit a Homerun. The three lads all spoke at once saying that was perfect. They never even thought about suggesting that because, they never got to think 'outside the box'. Kyle had a great big smile on his face after all three of his 'brothers' praised him.
"Mr. Wayne ... could we, you know, actually do that?" asked Kevin.
"Sure, why else did your 'dad' leave me that great big Mercedes van out there? He told me to use the Black AmEx card, so ... why don't we go there and break it in?" laughed Mr. Wayne.
The boys all yelled as they realized they were going to the Go-Kart track when their friends got there. The boys quickly went to Mr. Wayne and hugged him for doing that for them. They then went and changed back into the school clothes so they'd look nice when they went over to the track."
The boy's friends all arrived around the appointed time and the eight lads all went into the house to drop off the things their friends brought with them. It was then Kyle told their friends all about their brainstorming and that it was his idea what they were going to do tonight.
"Well, what is it we are going to do that is different from what we usually do," asked Eric, as he was the only lad who'd been there enough times to know the normal routine.
"We ... are ... going ... to ... the ... Go-Kart track," said a laughing Kyle.
"Robert, are we?" asked a very surprised Eric.
"Yes, boys that is where are going," chimed in Mr. Wayne. "Now, go get your jackets, or sweaters, or jersey's and meet me at the van outside. Now ... go, what does Mr. Ken call it, go drain your worms?" smiled Mr. Wayne.
"No, silly, its drain your dragons," said Kyle.
Ten minutes later Mr. Wayne had eight lads all buckled in the van and they were headed over to Four Corners to go drive the Go-Karts. They no sooner got there that all eight boys quickly unbuckled and rushed over to the Go-Kart track to get in line. Mr. Wayne soon followed along as he had to lock up the van.
"Thank you all for waiting for me," said Mr. Wayne, as he voiced his displeasure to all eight lads.
Richard, Isaac, and Landon didn't know what the man meant, so they looked to their friends. Robert saw the question on new lad's faces, so he told them they should have all waited for Mr. Wayne instead of running ahead to get in line without him. That said, Robert apologized to Mr. Wayne for not thinking about him after he wanted to do something different for them when they had a few friends stay overnight.
Charles then told the man that he was sorry, too, and that he knew better, but he let the idea of driving the Go-Karts keep him from thinking straight. He told Mr. Wayne that he wouldn't blame him if he took them all back to The Cove and they forgot about the Go-Karts.
Kevin and Kyle were sort of caught in the middle there. Yes, they knew they had done wrong but only after they heard what Robert and Charles had to say. The twins did their 'twin talk' and then it was Kevin who apologized to Mr. Wayne saying they were only following their 'brothers', but they were sorry for not waiting for him.
It got very quiet in the line right then. Mr. Wayne knew it was up to him to make the decision as he was the adult and he did bring the eight lads to use the Go-Karts. He thought about how Mr. Ken would handle it and then how Mr. Dan would probably just 'wing it'. As he remained close-mouthed, his mind was going a mile a minute trying to come up with the 'right' response, without ruining the night for the four lads who had nothing to do with what happened. Wayne Mitchell was learning 'on the job' and he had to make a decision.
"Boys, I don't think you would have done this ... if Mr. Ken was here. Would you have? ... You need to remember ... that when I am with you ... I represent your 'dad'. ... Boys ... I'm going to give you this one. I know you are not used to being around me without your 'dad' being here, too. And ... it would not be fair to your friends ... if I take you all back to The Cove, so ... we'll just go on as if nothing happened. That is IF it is ok with you?" spoke Wayne Mitchell.
The four Cover lads all looked at one another as if they couldn't believe what Mr. Wayne just told them. They didn't take a long time to decide what they were going to do and it was Robert who again apologized for all four of them and he told their 'boy manager' that they will not let something like that ever happen again. Robert then hugged the man followed by the other three Cover lads.
When that was all done, Mr. Wayne said, "OK, what are we waiting for? We came to ride the Go-Karts, so let's do this!"
The nine all got in line and the Cover lads talked to their friends about how they decided to come over there. It was a Friday night and the line was fairly long. And when Isaac learned that Mr. Ken owned the track he asked why they couldn't bump the line and go ahead of everyone else.
Kevin quickly spoke up and said that it wouldn't be fair for them to go ahead of the people who'd been waiting ahead of them. He told Isaac and the others that Mr. Ken wouldn't let them and even he not being there didn't mean they could do it anyway. Kevin added that he would learn about it eventually and they did not want him mad at them for doing something he wouldn't approve of. Isaac did thank his friend for telling him and that ended that line of conversation.
When the group was close to the front, Charles saw that they'd be split up and wouldn't be driving against one another. He looked at the numbers and asked his friends if they would let five people behind them go ahead so they all could race against each other. The discussion didn't take long to decide and they did allow the people forward.
When it was their time to race they had already decided in which rows they would start. They decided to let Kevin, Kyle, Richard, and Mr. Wayne take the front four karts since they had the least amount of time on the track. Landon and Isaac went next with Eric, Charles and then Robert taking the next three karts. There was one last older person who was riding by himself and was just happy to finally get to ride, so he didn't care he had the last kart.
When the light changed to GREEN, the twins raced out fast with Mr. Wayne following quickly behind. Richard had never driven the karts before, so he was tentative in his driving the course and it wasn't long before Eric, Charles, and Robert passed him. The twins were getting better at driving the go-karts, but they still weren't better than their three 'brothers' who passed them on the third lap.
Wayne Mitchell wasn't any better than the twins as he didn't drive the go-karts all that much either, but he did have some experience in driving similar karts when he was much younger. The surprise driver of the bunch was the older man who was the tenth driver on their race. The older gentleman obviously had some skills and he was easily passing the drivers before him. By the seventh lap, he only needed to pass Eric, Charles, and Robert who had gained the lead the lap before.
The three Cover lads tried to keep the older gentleman from passing them, but he was able to manipulate his kart in such a way that they only way they could keep him from passing them was to throw a three kart block and if they did that and he did get around them he would win the race. Robert, the leader of the race, didn't want to share the lead with his 'brother's so he tried to maintain his lead and fight off the man coming on strong. On the eighth lap the man passed Eric and on the ninth lap, he passed Charles. Now only Robert was left to pass and it was the last lap.
Robert knew the man was on his tail and he did everything he could to keep the man from passing him. The teen was able to fight the man's kart off on the back turn but as they raced to the front and the Finish Line the man pulled up alongside of Robert. The man saluted him and then gave a slight bump to his kart and he had to slow to maintain control and the man passed him and won the race.
When the race was over, and they all filed out of the track proper, the older gentleman was there waiting for the lads to appear.
"You ran a tough race there young man," said the older gentleman, who then presented his hand to shake Robert's.
'Thank, but you cheated," smiled Robert, as he shook the man's hand.
"No, I didn't cheat. I just used a time honored bump and run like we did back when I drove race cars out on the circuit. Young man, I'd say you have potential as a race car driver if you had a sponsor and a manager who could hone you into a good, no great, race car driver. Would you like to do something like that, young man?" asked the gentleman.
Robert looked around to the other boys and then up to Mr. Wayne. Mr. Wayne figured the teen wanted him to answer for him, so he stepped forward and said, "Sir, I'm afraid the lads 'dad' is ... he's away for the weekend and you would have to speak to him about allowing the lad to get involved in something like that. If you would like to give me your name and phone number I will talk to Mr. Thomas all about what you said, and if he is interested he could call you. I'm afraid, sir, that is all I can offer you at this time.
The older man said he understood and wished the youngster good luck in his future. He did give Wayne his name and phone number and after shaking hands with all the lads he walked away.
The boys talked about what the man said but they couldn't fathom what he meant by Robert being a good race car driver. Robert said that maybe he could one day drive in NASCAR, then he laughed.
It was still early, so Mr. Wayne asked the boys if they wanted to play a round of Miniature Golf. This time they all walked together and got in line and waited their turn. A cool breeze did come up while they were standing in line so Mr. Wayne and Robert went back to the van and retrieved everyone's jacket or jersey to ward off the coolness.
They all played a round of Miniature Golf but they didn't really keep score. The only thing they were concerned about was getting a FREE Game at the end. Then, when it came time to putt for the Free Game, only Richard and Mr. Wayne got them.
The large group did one last thing before going back to The Cove. Mr. Wayne took the lads over to Dairy Queen for a late night ice cream. This time Charles asked if they could all get banana splits as that was what they usually got. Mr. Wayne looked at his Black AmEx card and said, "Why not!" All nine of them got banana splits. Then, before they left, Robert got a medium dish of ice cream to take home for Chief.
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