"Hello boys," said Mr. Ken, just before they got to the Study door.
"How'd you know it was us?" asked Kevin.
"Well, Chief gave you away," laughed 'dad' Ken.
"Chief? How'd she do ... oh, you heard her paws on the tile as we walked to your Study," reasoned Kevin.
"So, how'd your day go? Did you have to answer more questions about Saturday night?" teased 'dad' Ken.
"Nope," said Charles, "At least I didn't. I told them to buzz off, and that I wasn't going to answer the same question for the hundredth time. Then I walked away."
Kevin and Kyle said they had to answer some of the same questions, but they were from the kids they didn't know very well. They said they figured the kids were trying to get to know them some.
Robert said he wasn't bothered by anyone asking questions, but that Josh, Gordon and Cody were still fending them off. Robert then laughed saying he was glad it was them and not him. The other boys laughed right along with him.
Mr. Ken reminded the boys that Doctor Doug would be there at 5 PM to talk to one of the twins and the other one would then talk to him after dinner. 'Dad' Ken then told Robert he wanted to talk to him at the same time after dinner and then winked at the teenager. At first, Robert didn't understand what that meant but when 'dad' Ken mentioned their Lists the teenager got a big smile on his face and said he'd be there.
Charles didn't understand the cryptic message between his older 'brother' and his 'dad' and he tried to get his older 'brother' to tell him what their 'dad' meant, but Robert wasn't budging with an answer. The four walked up the stairs and went to their bedrooms and started working on their homework.
Doctor Doug arrived just a little before 5 PM. Mr. Ken invited him in and then called Robert's cell phone to ask him to send one of the twins down. Kevin came down and the doctor and patient went into the Study to begin their session.
After dinner, Kyle told Doctor Doug if he needed more time with Kevin he could have some of his time. Kyle said Kevin was blaming himself for Saturday night and maybe the extra time would help. Doctor Doug thanked Kyle for thinking about his twin, but the doctor told the younger twin that he went through that same serious adventure Saturday night, and he wanted to talk to him about how it affected him. The younger twin and Doctor Doug went into the Study.
"'Dad', what is it you and Robert are going to do together?" asked Charles.
"Well, Charles, Robert and I used to use Tuesday nights to talk about things that went on during the previous week and what was planned for the coming week. We also used to talk about problems and misunderstandings we had between us. We stopped having them a while back and Robert asked me if we could start them back up. That's all," explained 'dad' Ken.
"Well, could we also do it with you, you know, to talk about things that happened and what we have planned for the next week or further out. That would let us talk more and be aware of things well before they happen," argued Charles.
Mr. Ken looked to Robert to see what he thought. Robert said, "'Dad', I guess if I can talk with you about what happened it would be only fair they all should be able to do it, too. Although, when I looked back at all the times we sat and talked and argued, I think I will miss that personal time alone with you. Maybe, when things settle down, we can all get a time we can just talk with you, you know, one-on-one. Those were the best times, 'dad'."
"OK, then it's done. We'll all have our group talk tonight and Kyle can join us when he and Doctor Doug are finished. Let's go down to the Great Room and get comfortable and just ... talk!" suggested 'dad' Ken.
The four Covers all walked down the stairs to the Great Room and they all got comfortable in the sofas and chairs. Mr. Ken and Robert then told Charles and Kevin what they talked about and about their Lists.
"Why did you make lists?" asked Kevin.
"Well, you see, things would happen during the week and then we'd think of something else we needed to talk out, but by the time Tuesday came around, we'd forgotten many of those things. So, we each made lists. That way, we wouldn't forget what we needed to talk about," explained 'dad' Ken.
"'Dad', what were some of the things on your list?" asked Kevin.
"Oh, let me see. We talked about Robert doing his homework right after he came home from school. We talked about him getting a cell phone. I told him about me building the office building and hotel. I think I even had on my list to talk to him about puberty, but then I realized he knew a lot about it already."
"We talked about Mildred and how she was treating him. But, you know, he never told me she was hitting him and everything else she was doing to him. Nothing was off limits and there was no, and I repeat, there was NO repercussion. No ramification, to whatever he wanted to talk to me about," offered Mr. Ken.
"What do you mean nothing was off limits, and there was no repercussion or ramification?" asked Kevin.
"Well, Kevin, what if you wanted to talk to me about my bad breath or my smelly feet? It means I wouldn't hold you down and breathe on you and shove my smelly feet in your face," laughed 'Dad Ken'. Robert and Charles joined in the laugh.
"'Dad', you're silly," laughed Kevin.
"OK, now that we have that settled, what we need to do is to just talk about things. Maybe we can start with what happened Saturday night. You all seemed to be wiped out after the weekend, but after you talked about what happened Saturday night on Monday at breakfast, you all perked up. Does anyone want to comment? Robert?" asked 'dad' Ken.
"Well, 'dad', I was concerned for the twins when I saw that panel van on the first street. But when the step van was at the top of the second street, I was really scared that something could happen to all of us because the van was so big ... and it did. I'm glad Mr. Dan was able to devise a plan so quickly and got Lt. Mathias and Sgt. Roberts to be with us so quick. I don't know what would have happened if they weren't there," spoke up the teen.
"'Dad', I didn't know what was happening when that big truck came at us," offered Charles. "Robert never said anything to us about the panel van and it wasn't until the lieutenant and the sergeant came up to us and told us about the step van that we learned what might happen. Then, it did. 'Dad', I heard Robert yell "RUN!" and I did. We all ran in different directions.
"When I looked back to see where everyone went I saw a man put something over Kevin. Then, the man picked Kevin up and started around to the back of the van. It was Kyle who went after them and began beating on the man to let his twin go. I didn't see what happened after that," revealed Charles.
"Well, don't look at me. I didn't see anything with that bag over my head. All I could hear was Kyle yelling at the man to leave me alone and to put me down. Then, I heard someone grab Kyle and tell him he could join his twin in the back of the van. Then, just as soon as the man said that, I heard Mr. Gene, or was it Mr. George, come up and tell the man to put me down."
"Then one of your security guys grabbed the man and he let me go and Kyle tried to get the hood off of my head. When I could see, I saw Mr. George had the man's hands tied behind his back and Mr. Gene was doing the same thing to the other man. It was then the police cars came rushing up and screeching to a stop that the cops jumped out of their cars and two came over to us," said Kevin.
"For someone who couldn't see anything, you sure know a lot of what happened to you," teased Charles.
"'Dad' ... can you tell us more about being adopted?" asked Charles.
"Well, 'son' there isn't much to say. When a child has no parents or other family members who want the child, then he or she can be put up for adoption. If the child is very young, then the chances of them getting adopted are very good. But, as the child gets older, like you all, that opportunity goes down quite a lot. On top of that, the adopting person has to meet certain criteria and submit tons of paperwork."
"If everything is in order and the child wants to be adopted by the person who is attempting to adopt him, the papers are sent to a judge for a review of the case. After the judge agrees with what is requested, he then has the adoptee and the adopter meet in court and the judge grants the adoption," explained 'dad' Ken.
"Are you going to adopt Charles and then me and Kyle?" asked Kevin.
"Kevin, your mom is still in the hospital, but when she gets out you and your brother will be reunited with her and the three of you will go on living together. I don't see why that wouldn't happen," replied 'Dad Ken'.
"But, what about Charles, then?" continued Kevin.
"That's the sixty-four thousand dollar question, Kevin. First, his mom has to give up custody of him, and then Charles has to want to be adopted. Then, CPS does their job and puts him up for adoption. After all that, the same process will happen as it did with Robert. The first hurdle will be getting Ms. Lewis to relinquish her rights to Charles. Until that happens, nothing can go forward. But there are other legal means for Charles to be put up for adoption, but they are all in the legal realm. I hope that answers your curiosity, Kevin," said Mr. Ken.
The four Covers talked until Kyle looked over the glass bannister and saw where everyone was and yelled down that Doctor Doug was getting ready to leave. With that, Mr. Ken walked up the stairs to talk to the man before he left. Kyle ran down to ask why everyone was down there.
"Doug, are the boys going to be OK?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Ken, yes, I'd say they will come out of this pretty well. This is something, though, they will always have in the backs of their minds. I don't think Kyle will have as much of a problem with it as Kevin, unless the boy totally realizes he had nothing to do with what happened to him and his dad. We'll work on that during the weeks to come. Anything else you want to know?" asked Doctor Douglas Jennings.
"Well, not so much to know, but ... well, I was wondering if we could change the night you come over?" asked Mr. Ken
The doctor laughed and told Mr. Ken that he doesn't normally make house calls, especially in the evenings, but because he was bribed with home-cooked meals in conjunction with him working with the twins, he decided to accept. The two men laughed. Then Mr. Ken told him that he would like to have his Tuesday nights back and asked if there was a way the doctor could come on a different night, like on Wednesday.
Doctor Doug thought about it for a few seconds and agreed he could come on Wednesday night, but that he really needed to have his nights back, as well. Doctor Doug asked if Ken could have Wayne bring the boys to his office from school. He reasoned that if Wayne was going to work for him, he could just as easily bring them and not interfere with Ken's work day.
Ken said he liked that suggestion, but asked if Doug could come one more time, on a Wednesday, though, while he coordinated with Wayne and his schedule for all the boys. It was then Ken told Doug he hoped to adopt Robert that coming Friday afternoon, but wasn't sure if Judge Richards had any free time in his court.
Doug said that sounded like a great idea and asked if he could attend. Ken told him he'd call him if it didn't work out. Mr. Ken then asked the doctor not to say anything to anyone else until it actually happened. Doctor Doug agreed and said he'd see him Friday and then left.
Kyle went down to the Great Room to be with the other lads and asked them why they were all down there. His twin told him Mr. Ken was using that time to talk to them about things that happened and what was being planned for them in the future. Kyle asked if they talked any more about Robert's adoption, yet.
Robert said they had, but they could go back if he wanted to or had something new he wanted to bring up. The teenager explained to Kyle what the Tuesday meetings were all about. That when he first came to The Cove, he had lots of questions. He told the younger twin that Mr. Ken had asked him to write his questions down so they could talk about them and they chose Tuesday nights to do that. The teenager told his 'brothers' he asked their 'dad' the other day if they could start doing that again.
"So, what do you talk about?" asked Kyle.
"Everything and anything, Kyle," said Robert. "We talked about me getting a cell phone, and we talked about Mildred and a bunch of other things that I wasn't sure of. Mr. Ken also brought his own list of things he wanted to ask me."
"Are we all going to do that now?" asked Kyle.
"Yes, you are," was what they heard from the steps, as Mr. Ken came walking back down to the Great Room.
"Boys, Robert and I used to use Tuesday nights to talk one-on-one about things that concerned each of us. Robert didn't know anything about me, nor I of him. We started slow and built up to other issues like Mildred and his parents. It probably wouldn't be fair if I only talked to Robert and left you all out."
"So, starting tonight, and every Tuesday night, barring anything that gets in our way, we'll meet and talk. We'll talk about the past week and what there might be planned for the coming week or whenever. And, the best part is that whatever you talk to me about will never be held against you. I want you to feel free to talk about anything that is on your mind. And since we only meet on Tuesdays you should write things down, so you don't forget them."
"But, if there ever is something that can't wait, then just pull me aside and we'll talk about it right then and there, or in my Study. If, after your snacks and before you go up to your rooms to do your homework, you want to talk, just tell me. One other thing boys, is that you can't go telling all your friends what your 'brothers' are asking or talking about."
"Now, since this is our first meeting as a large group, I'll start things off. We are all aware of the pending adoption come this Friday. I'll come to school on Friday, at lunchtime and pick you all up, if Judge Richards can put this on his Court's Calendar, that is. We should all know by tomorrow after school if the adoption will happen on Friday."
"Another thing I want to talk to you all about it the twin's trip. Kevin, Kyle, you probably heard I took Robert and then Charles on a 3-day trip, just the two of us. I am sorry I haven't scheduled something for you, but I think you'll agree that circumstances just haven't allowed me to. And, to tell the truth, I totally forgot. Ever since you boys have been here at The Cove there have been quite a number of things going on that have kept us all occupied. The latest thing was what we had happen on Saturday night."
"Boys, I will try my best to schedule a special trip for the three of us, but I am sorry to say that it will have to wait until Mr. Wayne comes on board and there is a 3-day weekend that we can use to go. I did check the school's calendar, and there is no school holiday next Thursday. Some schools closer to San Antonio take that day off as they have a big military presence there. One other thing you all also need to know is that for Thanksgiving, we are all going to Collin's."
"I've been going there ever since Collin graduated from high school and he and Grammy, that's his grandmother, have hosted me and Ms. Judy and Eric. Now, you four will join us, along with Mr. Wayne, if he chooses to go."
"Collin has chosen to host Thanksgiving and I host the Christmas and New Year's Eve parties. Those are going to be big affairs and you will ALL have to wear a suit for all four parties," announced Mr. Ken.
"Four parties? How are there four parties when there are only two Holidays, Christmas and New Year's?" asked Kevin.
"That's a good question, Kevin, and it is probably good that we talk about that now, because you all will have important roles to play. First, there are two Christmas Parties. The first one is for our neighbors. The second one is for the important people in the community. Then, I host two New Year's Eve Parties. One is for the important people in the community plus those high-ranking politicians and local dignitaries in the state. The other one has been for special people. When Collin was here I hosted his classmates. Last year, I hosted Eric's classmates."
"I'll have you know that the governor came to my first Christmas Party. That was the party that the ones who were invited and didn't choose to attend had a lot of explaining to do when they went back to work after the Holidays," chuckled Mr. Ken.
"So, what will we do?" asked Kyle.
"Well, you will be the junior hosts and will answer any questions the kids ask. You'll show people where the party foods and drinks are and keep people from walking into our personal spaces. You will all be dressed in suits and or colorful Holiday vests and just look cute," laughed Mr. Ken.
"'Dad', you said you'd take us on a special trip with you, but where would we go?" asked Kevin.
"That I do not know. When I took Charles on his trip, I had him search out a site where we could go and we wound up in Dallas-Fort Worth. When I took Collin and Robert, we went down to Houston and Galveston. So, while we figure out when we can go, I'll let you and your twin figure out where we can go here in Texas. Talk to Charles and he can get you started."
"Boys, there is one other trip you asked me about. You asked me if I would take you to visit my amusement parks during the Holidays. Well, I am going to check on that. If we go, though, we will probably leave that Saturday, which is the day after Christmas, and we'll return either late Tuesday or early Wednesday. It will be a fast and frantic trip if we are going to visit all three parks. Also, Ms. Judy, Eric and Mr. Wayne will be invited to come along, as well. Time will tell if we go and who will go."
"Since it is only the beginning of November my travel group should be able to get us good hotels at all three places. But, that means you'll pack, travel, unpack, visit, sleep, pack, travel, unpack, visit, sleep, etc. You get my drift?"
"You can talk to Robert and Eric and ask them how easy or frantic it was. Maybe you'll only want to visit one or two parks instead. Think and talk about it. We don't have to make those decisions until after Thanksgiving. And speaking of Thanksgiving, you'll have to make sure your friends know that we will all be gone from Wednesday through Saturday that week. Even Chief is going along with us, aren't you girl?" finished up Mr. Ken.
"Woof, woof, woof," barked out Chief, who then went over to Mr. Ken and gave him a few kisses.
"If you haven't noticed, this is what our Tuesday meetings were all about. I think we did well for our first one. Keep in mind that we can talk about anything and everything including the things like we just talked about. This is so we are fully aware of what is planned. Does anyone have any questions?" asked Mr. Ken.
When none of the boys had any questions, Mr. Ken asked the boys if they were ready for their bedtime snack. The boys said in unison "Yes!", and they all ran up the stairs to head to the Kitchen Nook.
Of course, Mr. Ken yelled, "And NO running!", but that didn't do him any good as the kids were almost to the top of the stairs. At least Chief stayed with him as the man walked up the stairs.
Mr. Ken visited all the boys in their bedrooms before they all went to sleep that night. He checked with them to see how they all liked their meeting and he got positives from the three newest members. Robert was honest and told his 'dad' that he liked it when it was just them but he knew that having all his 'brothers' there was the right thing to do.
Breakfast was a lively one that Wednesday morning at The Cove. The twins were talking about their trip and where they could go in Texas and Charles was asking Robert about the things that he and 'dad' talked about.
Mr. Ken got the lad's attention and told them he had a meeting at Commissioner's Court that morning. He told them it was over the apartment complex he was trying to build on the acreage he bought next to Four Corners. He told them he mentioned it to them just in case he wasn't home when they got back from school that afternoon. He told them he expected to be there, but when you were working with the government, you couldn't rely on anything. The boys all laughed at that.
The weather was cool that morning so 'dad' Ken made the boys wear a jacket. Kevin, of course, had to help his twin. As the boys were walking out the door, Kyle asked if they could tell their friends about their pending trips and Thanksgiving. Mr. Ken said it was OK as that way their friends would know about them when they were finally getting to go.
After the boys left for school, Mr. Ken went and got ready for his day. He shaved, brushed his teeth and after his shower, he dressed in a suit and tie for the Commissioner's Court hearing that morning. He had plenty of time before he was supposed to meet up with Bill Jackson at 9:30 AM, so he reviewed his notes one last time. When he felt he was sufficiently prepared, he placed all his prep material in his briefcase and headed over to the County seat.
"Morning Bill," said Mr. Ken upon meeting up with his lawyer.
"Morning, Ken, I see your detractors are here. They brought with them some high on themselves environmentalists who are always saying we need to do this or that to save the planet. They are like the ones who tell us 'Do as I say; NOT as I do'. I suspect they will talk about all the plants and trees that will be destroyed just so you can make money. You can also bet they will complain that you will not pay any taxes as you never have ever since you built your estate," warned Bill Jackson.
"Bill, this is a WIN-WIN proposition for the county and for the Commissioners to reject this they will be showing they do not care about progression in this county and are anti-business," started Ken before Bill stopped him.
"Remember, I gave you almost that same pep-talk," laughed Bill.
"Bill, to change subjects for a few, have you heard anything about scheduling Robert's adoption?" asked a serious Ken Thomas.
"No, Ken, I haven't. I intend to call on the judge after this hearing. He is aware of our request, though. He just hasn't told me if he can put on his Friday docket. I don't see why he can't. He controls what he does and doesn't do," chuckled Bill.
The hearing started on time. After each of the Commissioner's made some opening remarks, they told the critics of the apartment complex they would go first. They were told they had no more than an hour to make their case no matter how many people they brought with them to support their position.
The first person up, who was adamantly against the apartments, complained that the excessive environmental footprint would contribute to the destruction of the earth through the excessive use of non-renewable materials. The man explained they needed to stop the construction due to the density of the number of apartments that would also overtax the utilities and cause more traffic to be sent through, that the area didn't have the capacity to sustain.
The next person up was an avid environmentalist. He quoted Al Gore extensively and the many scientists who joined with the Global Warming crowd. He told how the earth was being warmed by the continued manufacturing of construction materials that added carbon dioxide and other gases into our air that would poison everyone.
For an hour, the anti-apartment crowd told the commissioners how the approval of that 400 unit apartment complex would destroy the environment through the excess use of resources. They added it would add to the civic burden of providing water, electricity, sewage, trash pickup and how it would add to the poor air quality that was taking over all the cities and towns. At the end of their presentation, they added that the traffic density would increase exponentially and increase commuting times for the homeowners who were already living in that area.
When the anti-apartment crowd were finished, the commissioners took a fifteen-minute break. When they came back it was time for Bill Jackson and Ken Thomas to make their presentation and argue for the approval of the 400 unit apartment complex.
"Commissioners ... I will not need the hour you have allotted me to argue the overwhelming need for this apartment complex in our county at this time. The anti-everything crowd argued and would have you believe that this construction project will destroy the earth ... all by itself."
"They only brought hearsay and innuendo to you today ... and they tried to use scare tactics saying that the air we breathe will be contaminated and the traffic created ... will cause the area to come to a standstill. When you research their statistics, you will find they are suspect as even NOAA admits they 'cooked' the books' on a number of weather and climate temperature collection samples."
"What we all know is ... is this 400 unit apartment complex is going to provide a large number of our families a better place to live, raise their kids and have them go to school. The complex is also going to dedicate 120 of the proposed 400 units to senior citizens and these residential buildings will be separated from the rest of the complex."
"This senior apartment complex will have their own amenities, such as laundry, storage, parking for two vehicles, open spaces as well as their own swimming pool. This was a conscious decision by Mr. Thomas who wanted to provide a more noise free and safer place for our senior citizens, 55 years of age and older, to reside and who no longer have any children to raise."
"The added benefit to this construction is it will put a large number of workers in good-paying jobs ... for the duration of the project. On top of that, Mr. Thomas is taking an underdeveloped area of our county and putting it onto the county tax rolls. As for the infrastructure needs, you all know these are already in place and were put in place when the Four Corners area was initially developed not too long ago."
"In addition to building this state-of-the-art apartment complex, this area is now zoned to add more businesses and jobs for the people of our county. That means people, our people, will have places to shop, to work, to play and to raise their kids. This is one of the fastest growing areas of our county and you have an obligation to the people of this county to provide good and affordable homes where they can live and raise their families."
"As I said ... this is going to be one of the fastest growing areas of our county. Future construction will bring a large grocery chain store, hardware store, restaurants, medical clinics and much, much more. This area is destined to grow and when it does develop, the tax rolls will increase exponentially, giving the county more money, to do what is well and good for the people of our wonderful county."
"Gentlemen, you can choose to delay this people friendly project that will give our people a better place to live, work and play, now, or let it languish and allow adjoining counties to take our jobs and our people away from the greatest place to live," finished up Bill Jackson.
The commissioners decided not to take a break this time around. The gallery, hearing there was not going to be a break, got very boisterous and started yelling out they wanted the apartment construction stopped. The six county commissioners, with one vacant seat due to Judge Joseph Jouseff's arrest, looked back and forth to one another. It was Judge Joseph Barnneby, the County Commission President who gaveled the hearing back into order.
"Order, order," ordered Judge Barnneby, "please take your seats and be quiet."
The boisterous group continued yelling for the county commissioners to stop the construction and Judge Barnneby kept trying to get them to be quiet. When the group of protestors wouldn't quiet down, the judge ordered their removal. Some of the opponents of the apartments began to sit down and yell even louder.
The Sheriff's Deputies, acting as bailiffs, who are at Commissioner's Court to control crowds, began to arrest the protestors and that brought more of their supporters to yell and try to block their friends' arrests.
It looked like a melee was going to break out between the court's bailiffs and the highly vocal protestors, but the bailiffs called in reinforcements and the added Sheriff's Deputies assisted in arresting over 20 people and did a two-man carry, when the protesters went limp, in order to get them out of the court.
Once order was reestablished in the hearing room and the protestors were either arrested and removed or had quieted down, Judge Barnneby canvassed his fellow commissioners. The Commissioner's Court President asked for a voice vote from his fellow judges and when the vote was over the Court voted to overwhelmingly approve the construction of the 400 unit apartment complex.
Bill and Ken smiled very big that afternoon as they shared lunch after the hearing. Ken told his lawyer he was concerned at the way Bill had presented their side, but since it all worked out in their favor he was very happy.
When the men finished their lunch, and they were walking out of the restaurant, Bill told his client he had an appointment to meet with Judge Richards later that afternoon. Mr. Ken knew his lawyer had made the appointment and his hope of hopes was that Bill could get Robert's adoption hearing set up for Friday afternoon.
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