The Castaway Hotel: Book 3

Chapter 18: Coping

We soon found ourselves down at the police station, so we could give our accounts of the events that took place earlier. We drove our vehicles behind the squad cars, following them to their headquarters, and then all of us who had been part of what happened, starting with Andrew and me, and then the boys who had been in the mens room when we found Andrew and the guy released him. Our statements were video-taped, and after that another group of officers typed them out, so we could sign and date them.

The Desk Sergeant. said it would be unlikely we’d have to come back to testify, seeing we caught the bastard in the stall with Andrew, had so many witnesses to that fact, and also had Andrew’s account of what had happened. He figured the guy would most likely accept a plea-bargain, rather than face a jury of angry adults, who would most likely be willing to throw the book at him. Now that everything had been taken care of, we thanked the police for their help and left to return to our hotel.

I had been holding and carrying Andrew since we rescued him and he was clinging to me more tightly than my old army uniform, since it was now several sizes too small for me. We all tried to comfort and reassure him that he was fine, everything was all right and he was safe again. I had to let Brandon’s father drive the van to the hotel for me, while his wife drove their car, since Andrew didn’t want to let go of me, even for an instant.

By this time, we decided to just pick up subs for dinner, which we could eat in our rooms, and we bought some soda and chips to go with them. After the boys ate, I gave the little ones their baths, tucked Sammy, Andrew, Justin and Nicky into one bed, while Cole and Graham sat on the other bed to keep them company. I was to meet everyone else in the O’Haras’ room, to discuss how we were going to handle this.

As I walked in, the boys were filling Brandon’s mother in about how I had ‘beat the crap out of the guy,’ which didn’t make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. The boys then began to tease me about being a mother bear protecting her cub, but it was all good-natured ribbing. They each made certain to let me know they were really pleased that I had gone the distance for Andrew. I’m not sure how proud I was of myself at that point, but I knew I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again, if another situation like that ever arose.

It was then that the boys began calling me ‘slugger’, ‘champ’, ‘Rocky’ and ‘the terminator’, but I quickly informed them we would not discuss what happened in this fashion in front of the little ones. I didn’t want to scare them any more than they already were, and I didn’t want them to become overly paranoid about something similar happening again. I told the others I would explain to the boys again about being able to say ‘no’ to people who want to do things like that and the importance of staying with an older person when we are out in public. If the truth were to be known, I was really blaming myself for just telling Andrew to go catch up with his brothers, instead of going with him. I knew this would haunt me for a long time to come and I’d relive my guilt every time I looked into his precious, innocent face.

Once that discussion ended, we all went back to our own rooms. Danny, Brandon, Dustin and Kevin were in the ‘sex room’ this evening, but I knew they were all too upset about what happened to their brother to do anything. I went back to my room and got ready to get into bed and Andrew woke up, just as I was about ready to turn off the lamp. He asked if he could sleep with me and I told him that would be fine. As quick as lightening, he scooted over from his bed to mine and crawled under the sheet beside me. I held him tightly all night long, as my silent apology for letting such a terrible thing happen to him.

The next morning I chatted briefly with Andrew, while the other boys were brushing their teeth, and he seemed to have already recovered from his ordeal. Fortunately, the guy never had time to penetrate his little butt before we rushed in there, so there was no physical damage done and the psychological scars were already beginning to heal. Andrew actually thanked me for saving him from that bad man and seemed quite content to leave it at that, although it still didn’t ease my guilt. I was pretty sure this wasn’t entirely over yet, but I was willing to take things at his pace. I gave him a hug and a kiss, before sending him off to brush his teeth, and then we joined the others for breakfast.

The older boys were totally protective of the younger members of the group now and made certain that someone was either carrying or holding the hand of each of the five smallest family members, which included Graham. Even though he was older than Dion, he was much smaller physically and much more vulnerable to a predator. Graham didn’t seem to mind, in fact he seemed to be enjoying the extra attention, and none of the little ones were able to make a move, without being accompanied by one or two of the older boys.

Now it was time to go back to having fun and giving the boys something else to focus on. We did that by driving to the San Jacinto State Park, so we could see the Battleship Texas. The ship had participated in both World War I and World War II. In WW I, it was considered the most powerful warship afloat, because of her ten 14”/45 guns in five twin turrets. In 1919, the Texas also became the first US battleship to launch an aircraft from its deck. After that, the Texas received the first commercial radar in the US Navy in 1939 and in 1940 it was designated flagship of the US Atlantic Fleet. Another first was accomplished when the First Marine Division was formed aboard the Texas in 1941.

“Look at the size of those guns,” Pat remarked, standing in awe of her impressive weaponry.

“Bet it could fire and hit targets miles away,” Kevin added, thinking about how much damage the shells from those guns could do.

After that, we learned the Texas transmitted General Eisenhower’s first “Voice of Freedom” broadcast in 1942, when he asked the French not to oppose allied landings on North Africa. However, the French didn’t heed his advice and still put up resistance when they landed. The Texas provided gunfire support for the amphibious assault on Morocco, to protect the allied troops as they landed on the North African shore. The Texas was also at the Normandy invasion, firing on Nazi defenses as the allied forces stormed the beaches.

The Texas was later transferred to the Pacific fleet, where it provided gunfire support for landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In 1948, the Texas became the first battleship to become a memorial museum in the US, and in 1977 it was designated a National Historic Landmark, before being placed under the stewardship of the Texas Parks and Wildlife department in 1983. Since that time, the Texas has been restored to her 1945 Pacific theater condition and that’s how we saw the vessel today.

“How can they get something so heavy and made from metal to float, Daddy?” Graham wanted to know.

Even though I tried to explain the dynamics of how it was accomplished, I failed miserably and finally gave up, while telling him I’d find a way to explain it better, once we got back home. After that, we gave the boys some time to pretend they were sailors fighting in the war, as many of them began running around the deck, pretending to battle an unseen enemy, which happened to also entertain some of the other tourists that were onboard at the same time.

Eventually, the O’Haras and I managed to drag them off of the ship and get them into our vehicles, so we could make the short drive to Galveston. The first thing we did there was to visit another ship, this one being much older and made of wood. The Elissa is a restored nineteenth-century sailing ship, which was first launched in late 1877. It is 162’ long, with a molded depth of 16’, and has a gross capacity of 430 tons. The ship carries 19 sails made of canvas and her hull plates and forms are made of iron, except where it has been restored with welded steel.

The Elissa began her career as a cargo ship, transporting coal, but it was sold many times over the following years and used for many other purposes. It is now one of the few surviving square-riggers in the world and the oldest one listed in the Lloyd’s of London ‘Registry of Shipping.’ It is now under the control of the Galveston Historical Foundation, which is responsible for restoring the ship, and was placed on the National Register of Historic Places during the summer of 1978.

The boys were intrigued with the differences between this vessel and the Texas, which led to a discussion of the history of sailing ships and the various changes that occurred in their design and construction over the centuries. We talked about the Phoenicians and the Romans, focusing on how they used ships to establish trading and political empires. We then discussed the Spanish Armada and how the British had defeated it and then become the rulers of the sea for many years afterward. That fact alone made it possible for them to establish their vast expanses of colonies and led to the saying ‘the sun never sets on the British Empire.’ We also discussed the use of metal in ship construction and how it evolved over time. I think we might have a couple of future sailing men in this group, as they expressed an interest in finding out what it would be like to spend so much time on such a vessel. When our tour ended, we decided to do lunch and continued this discussion while we ate.

After lunch, we went to our hotel, which was along the fine Galveston beaches. It was then that I informed the boys that our last couple of days in Texas would be spent here, enjoying the sun, sand and the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Everyone was excited about this announcement and happy we would be spending the next two days just loafing about and relaxing, before we headed back home. We took everyone to their rooms and got them settled in, before we all changed into our swimwear and headed down to the beach to spend the rest of the afternoon in the sun.

We hustled down to the water’s edge and right away the older boys took to the surf, having a grand time in the mild waves. Even Dion and Carlos went out into the water, although not as far or as recklessly as the others, but they too seemed to be enjoying themselves as well. The younger ones stayed on the beach, just letting the waves come up and wash across their lower legs and feet, as each wave swept ashore. Brandon’s parents and I watched the boys, while enjoying the warm rays of the sun as they caressed our aged bodies. We also made sure the boys didn’t wander out too far or get careless in unfamiliar territory, besides seeing they didn’t wander off anywhere else on their own.

The older boys soon ended their frolicking and came in to help the younger boys build sand sculptures. They broke up into groups, decided on what they wanted to make and then began to sculpt it. One group made a traditional castle, as another decided to make Shamu out of sand, while the next tried to make the Space Shuttle and the last group worked on trying to make a ship. They all turned out quite well and we adults were impressed with their abilities, noting the details that each group added to their particular sculpture.

After they finished their designs, the older boys took the younger ones with them, a little farther out in the water, but it wasn’t anything they couldn’t handle. Even Dion and Carlos joined them this time. At first, I was concerned the older boys would forget the little ones were with them or that Carlos and Dion were still non-swimmers and start their horsing around. However, they were very careful and very attentive, while making sure no one was placed in a hazardous situation. They eventually came back in, spread their towels out on the sand and sprawled out all around us.

After resting for a few minutes, Brandon reached into the gym bag he had carried down with him and pulled out a Frisbee and a Nerf football. When I shot a questioning look at him, he gave me an instant reply. “I brought these from home and kept them in the car, just in case we might need something to do,” he said, with a grin.

“Good thinking, old man,” I teased him. “I didn’t think any of you ever thought that far ahead.”

“Oh, we do more planning than you’ll ever know about, Pop,” he responded, giving me a wink. I wanted to ask him what kind of planning he was talking about, but was afraid of his possible answer, especially with his parents sitting right there. Fortunately, they didn’t give his comment a second thought.

The boys played an interesting game of Frisbee tag that included everyone, even the younger boys, in the game. The little ones thought it was big sport to chase the older ones and tag them by throwing the Frisbee and hitting them with it, and they continued this game until they decided to throw the Nerf football around instead. Eventually, they ended up playing a game of keep-away with the football and I was getting dizzy watching the group in the middle chasing the ball, as it flew back and forth. The boys finally tired themselves out and came back to join us again, plopping down on their towels again. However, they only rested briefly, before dragging us adults out into the waters of the Gulf and making sure we got totally wet in the process.

We spent the whole afternoon enjoying the sun and the water and I concluded the boys would sleep well tonight. The fresh air and exercise always seems to have that effect on them and I figured this would be no exception. As the afternoon progressed into evening, the boys announced they were hungry and it was time to eat. We quickly collected all of our things, went back to our rooms, cleaned up and changed, before trying to locate a restaurant.

The boys had taken a quick survey amongst themselves and decided we should do Chinese this evening. They approached the desk clerk, to ask him if he knew of a place, and he was very helpful in directing us to a very good establishment. As we were sitting there eating, it suddenly struck me that the boys had probably done this for Andrew’s benefit, to help keep him from thinking about yesterday’s experience. Even though Sammy and Andrew were Japanese, not Chinese, they still liked this cuisine and it was a less obvious choice than a Japanese restaurant.

As I began watching all of the boys, I noticed that each one of them was making sure to take the time to say something positive to their little brother or do something helpful for him. Now, I was totally convinced that my assumption was correct. I made a mental note to check with one of the boys later, to verify my suspicions. However, I was very proud of their thoughtfulness, suspecting this to be the case.

On the way out of the restaurant, the boys saw a poster for a free concert in the park, featuring a collection of local talent. It was slated for tomorrow evening, so they asked if we could go. I talked it over quickly with the O’Haras and we saw no reason why we shouldn’t attend, so we told the boys it would be fine. Then we asked them what they wanted to do tonight and they said they wouldn’t mind just going back to the room and ordering a movie. I told them we could all go to my room and I’d let them order the movie, so we could all watch it together. I invited the O’Haras to join us, but they said they’d rather select their own movie and view it in their own room, and I told them I understood. Therefore, I led all the boys to my room and left Patrick and Brenda to enjoy their time alone.

The boys quickly checked out the listings for the evening and agreed on some action-adventure movie. I set things up for them and then settled onto the sofa, where I was quickly surrounded and buried beneath a collection of young male bodies. The little ones sat on or beside me, while the older boys sat on the floor or leaned up against us. Andrew was one of the ones who found his way onto my lap and he watched the entire movie with his head resting against my shoulder. When the movie ended, I sent all of the boys to their rooms to get some sleep.

Cole, Graham, Pat and Carlos were in the ‘sex room’ this evening, and I was pretty sure that Carlos would be trying out some more oral sex. Dustin, Kevin, Brandon and Danny were going to share a room and they asked Sammy and Andrew to join them. I agreed with their plan and they all took off. Andrew spent the night tucked safely between Brandon and Danny, while Sammy was protectively snuggled between the other pair.

Nick asked if he could stay with Nicky, Jordan and me this evening, and I told him he could, so Ricky, Jay, Trey and Dion went to the final room. I was surprised to see Nick get into bed between my two grandsons, one wrapped in each of his arms, and they spent the night cuddled together like that. I believe that, having been an only child, Nick was beginning to enjoy having all of these others around. For the little ones, he was becoming a loving big brother/uncle and he enjoyed the older boys as brothers, friends and sex partners. For the first time in quite a while, I slept alone, but I was happy that the others were content with their current situations.

We spent Saturday on the beach again, except this time it was much more crowded. There were tons of other kids around too and the boys were soon busy making new friends and engaging in activities with some of these new acquaintances. We gave the boys plenty of space to enjoy themselves, only watching to make sure that no older children or adults approached them in any threatening way. I was just about ready to pounce on this one guy who was approaching Nicky, when he noticed his own son, who coincidentally looked very much like my grandson, and went to him instead. I realized it was just a case of mistaken identity and relaxed once more.

We ate early that evening, in order to make sure we could get to the park for the concert and find a decent seat. It turned out that some of the groups were quite good and the various artists represented quite a broad spectrum of musical tastes. The first group was a country group that performed some of the recent country favorites, plus a couple of their own pieces. The next group was a rock-oriented group, but they were eclectic in their tastes, performing pieces by several well-known groups. The third group basically did blue-grass songs and the fourth group was a real head-banger rock group. After that, there was another country group, followed by an older group that performed mostly classic rock and roll. The group after that played contemporary pop and the final band was one of the big name local rock-groups. All in all it was a pretty enjoyable evening, although I could have survived it better without the head-banger group. When it ended, it was already quite late, so we went directly back to our rooms.

No one really cared about the ‘sex room’ tonight, so we didn’t even make an assignment. Tomorrow we would be flying back home and this caused quite a few mixed emotions. There was a lot of fidgeting going on with some of the boys, as they tried to get to sleep, and in the middle of the night I heard a knock on the door to my room. When I opened it, I was surprised to find Nick standing there.

“Nick, what’s the matter? What are you doing up this late?” I asked him.

“I couldn’t sleep very well,” he replied. “Can I stay here with you?”

“Sure, come on in.”

I just happened to be sleeping alone again, that was until Nick jumped into bed with me. Soon he was cuddled up against me, his arm thrown across my stomach and laid his head on my chest. After lying like this for several minutes, he lifted his head and looked me in the eyes. “You ARE going to let me come join you at your home when you get back from England, aren’t you?” he asked.

“Certainly I am,” I replied, suddenly understanding his need to join me. “I’m not going to leave you without a place to go. Brandon’s parents will take good care of you until we return and then we’ll have you fly out and join us.”

“Promise you won’t forget,” he insisted.

“I promise, Nick. I could never forget you,” I told him.

With that, he put his head back on my chest and eventually fell asleep. I guess I never considered that Nick would be insecure, after what he had been through, but he needed reassurance the same as any young boy who felt he wasn’t really loved or wanted. The next morning I made sure I reinforced my commitment to him, before I did anything else.

I let all of the boys sleep late that morning and then we went out for Sunday brunch. After eating, we went back to our rooms to pack. We loaded all of our things into the van and then said good-bye to the O’Haras and Nick. All of the boys said their individual farewell to Nick and then he came over and threw his arms around me. I kissed him on the forehead, told him that we’d see him again in mid-August, and then I hugged him as hard as I could.

The O’Haras said their good-byes to everyone too and then they got in their car to make the drive back to San Antonio. I saw Nick looking out the back window, tears streaming down his cheeks, waving bravely at us as they pulled away. My heart was breaking, because I couldn’t take him with us.

I finally got the others into the van and drove to the airport, where we turned the van back in and checked in our luggage. Within the hour, we were boarding our flight to head home for the next couple of weeks. This part of our summer was behind us and now we had to prepare for the next phase.