When Ken Thomas arrived downstairs, there was a heated argument over the jurisdiction of the boy. The lady identified herself as the representative from Children's Protective Services (CPS) and stated in no uncertain terms was the injured boy going to remain in that house. She continued to spout that she was going to take him to the hospital to be treated and from there he would be placed into a foster home. Agent Campbell explained that the lad was under FBI protection and would remain there for the time being under the direct care of Doctor Powers, and as a guest of Mr. Thomas. Ms. Judy Turner, the CPS Rep used her cell phone to contact her supervisor and informed them of the situation. Phil Campbell also called his superiors to inform them of all the complications he had. There was definitely a tug of war between the warring governmental agencies and both Rick and Ken just sat back and watched.
Doc filled in Ken that he was the one who called CPS just about the same time he called the police. It was his duty to report that type of abuse. He told him how pissed Phillip was when he found out there were more and more people becoming aware of the lad's location plus the fact that the boy was still alive. That was not going well for the story they had placed with the local news media about finding a dead teenager. Ken told Rick they still didn't ask him if he had a staff or other workers for the estate and that Campbell will surely have a heart attack when he finds out and for Doc to have his bag ready. They both laughed at that.
It was almost 7 PM when the house phone rang and Ken answered it. It was the governor's office and the Governor wanted to speak with Mr. Thomas. Ken took the call there in the Study and put it on speaker so everyone could hear. Everyone sat as quiet as a church mouse waiting for the reason for the governor's call.
"Hello Governor, to what honor do I owe the pleasure of your call here tonight?" inquired Ken Thomas.
"Ken, if I may, my friend, it appears your area was hit the hardest from that recent storm and I was calling to ask for your help down there coordinating the cleanup and whatever else needs to be done," replied the Governor.
"Well, why, thank you Governor for your trust in one so young to represent you here for such an important job. You know I'll do my best to get the job done right and represent you and the state in the best way possible," responded Ken Thomas.
"Youíre welcome, Ken, but I am also aware of what else you have on your so-called plate down there right now. The circumstances for that person of interest are truly unfortunate, but I want you to be a primary factor in getting things worked out," added the governor.
"Sir, it's uncanny that you should mention that matter, as I currently have the distinct pleasure of hosting FBI Agent Phillip Campbell, County Sheriff Mathew Barnes, Ms. Judy Turner of Children's Protective Service and Doctor Richard Powers, a family friend, who are all listening in."
"It sounds like you got the right people helping at the right time, even before I called to ask for your assistance," chuckled the governor. "Ken, since I know you personally, I believe you are the right person for both jobs. First, I want you get with the County Commissioner's Office and whoever else thinks they are in charge and find out what type of assistance I need to send down there. I am going to appoint you as head of the Governor's Task Force for that area.
"Second, I want you and Agent Campbell to take charge of our person of interest and ensure his safety and a healthy recovery. You TWO Ö are to do whatever you deem necessary and my office will support you 100 percent. Are there any questions from those present?" inquired the governor.
"Governor, Judy Turner, CPS, here, I am well aware of your position but this matter concerning that person of interest as you are calling him surely needs to be attended to immediately by my agency and we should take charge without delay."
"Yes, yes, I can well understand your position, Ms. Turner, but our special person of interest needs the anonymity and to be kept in a safe and secure place. My directive will cover Agent Campbell's presence there, and you heard me direct that Mr. Thomas will be my personal representative for this task force. Both men will act together and insure our special person's safety along with recovery actions that are deemed necessary to quickly get the county back on its feet again, fast. Do you understand that, Ms. Turner? Your supervisor had that explained to her just a few minutes ago. Are we on the same page, Ms. Turner?"
"Yes, Mr. Governor, I totally understand and I will reluctantly cooperate," stated Judy Turner.
"No reluctance about it! Just do it, Mrs. Turner. Just do it! Right now, I will not tolerate any interference from anyone not approved by either of those two men! Ancillary services will take a back seat, right now. They will be called upon when their services are deemed necessary," angrily reprimanded the Governor. "Anything else?"
Ken then quickly said, "Thank you for your utmost trust in me, on both matters, Governor."
With that the phone call was abruptly ended. No one said a word. They all kept looking around the room at the others present, trying to gain some sense from their faces as to what just occurred. It was obvious the person who was going to be the most upset was Judy Turner, from CPS. She had the rug pulled out from under her by the Governor and she could do nothing about it. From the sound of his Honor the Governor's voice, it was apparent he didn't want CPS anywhere near the lad until the status of the undertaking was resolved.
Agent Phillip Campbell began to issue directives but no one responded. He again told the people what they would do and they still sat there. Then Doc Powers stated the obvious. "Ah, Phil Ö I think the Governor said there'd be TWO of you IN charge."
Agent Campbell immediately began to respond, but after looking around at the others' faces, he realized that both he and Mr. Thomas were to act as one as directed by the Governor. Everyone spoke up and agreed that was what they heard and they indicated that Mr. Thomas never gave his ideas before Campbell's pronouncements. Hearing what he considered a mutiny, Phillip exited the Study and went directly outside to cool off.
Richard Powers took Judy aside and asked her to issue Mr. Thomas a ten day temporary Foster Parent authorization, so the boy would be legally there and that Ken could authorize any needed medical care. Ms. Judy argued over the appropriateness of that action but it went on deaf ears. Doc Powers told her he would go over her head to her supervisor who had just had her ass reamed by the governor, he assumed, and let her stew on that idea few a few minutes.
Reluctantly, Ms. Turner gave Ken Thomas a ten day temporary license to be a Foster Parent for one Collin Wilkinson and let it be known she was going to file a complaint when the 'undertaking was resolved'. Mr. Thomas thanked her for the license and took Rick aside to tell him about Collin's shower and ask him about meals for the boy.
Phillip Campbell sought out Mr. Thomas after about 30 minutes of phone calls to his boss concerning the handling of the situation. In the end, he had been told to just cooperate and see what the man had to say. He then apologized to Ken for storming out. Ken told him he had no problems with his taking the lead, but it was apparent that the others wanted him involved. He also remarked he could find himself involved out in the county from what he got from the governor's phone call. They would just have to wait and see.
Over the next few hours the two men worked out the details of the security for Collin. It was agreed the security cameras would be the main part of their defenses, as they would allow the men to trade off working outside fixing things from the storm and being inside monitoring almost 50 cameras. The sheriff was asked to provide six men, to each work eight hour shifts, alongside the Federal Agents to be assigned. Ken said he'd offer the men good food and a comfortable place to sleep, and shower.
Ken also offered to purchase any equipment they needed to do their job, as long as the equipment stayed with him after it was all over. Mr. Ken insisted that anything he bought, whether it was a gun or a digital SLR camera or vehicle that it would remain there permanently or until he was fully reimbursed by the U.S. Federal and/or the county governments before it left the premises. Ken had his lawyer draft up a legal contract afterward but the gist of it was printed and signed by both men then and there.
By the time the two men had a qualified security detail assigned and procedures in place to protect Collin, it was well after 2 AM. Both men appreciated their soft beds when they fell into them.
Over the next few days, Collin became stronger and begged to get out of bed more and more, in order to walk around to stretch his legs. He had no clothes whatsoever, but Ken remembered Ryan had left clothes there in 'his' room and brought a pair of briefs for the lad to put on. The feeling of wearing clothes, even if they were tighty whities, sure made him feel somewhat human again. Then Ken took him to Ryan's room and told him to try on whatever he liked. Collin was reluctant at first, but Mr. Thomas assured him that Ryan wouldn't care as the teenager left those clothes there as a 'just in case' he decided to spend the night as he was prone to do unannounced at times.
Young Wilkinson was still a bit weak but having the elevator made it easy for him to now travel to the kitchen to get his meals. Collin also enjoyed just being around his new 'parent'. He would sit in the Study while Ken worked on some union contracts or layout designs he was toying with for the amusement parks he was beginning to acquire which were located all over the lower forty-eight states. The boy never tired of observing how steadfast the man was in attacking his problems. He watched the man develop a number of different ideas then worked out the best parts of them to formalize a final product.
Mr. Thomas did indeed become a figurehead for the Storm Recovery Team and it was well known that the Governor had personally appointed this very young man to represent him. That appointment got his name in all the papers and because of his youth, he was highly sought after for visits to hard stricken areas within his county. Ken Thomas was becoming a well knows figure not only at the local level but his name was being bantered about in national political circles, as well. His politics were not known to anyone and that kept all sides hoping he would soon join their team.
Security at Three Finger Cove for the most part became routine for the assigned men. After three weeks, Mr. Thomas observed the men had become complacent and they did not have the enthusiasm they did when they first began the job. Ken had a few talks with Agent Campbell over it but there was never an acceptable resolution he felt safe with.
Not liking the continued nonchalant attitudes of the assigned men nor the way they performed their detail, he made a phone call. Not long after, a hot-under-the-collar Agent Campbell came storming into the Study raising holy hell to Ken about his going over his head and getting his ass reamed by the head honcho from Washington.
Ken had no sympathy and told the man so. He pointed out that this was HIS house and the security that was supposed to protect the boy was also supposed to protect him as well as the premises. He further informed the Agent if things didn't change and change immediately, he would be replaced and so would all of the detailed men. Ken told Phillip he was lax in supervising the men and that new faces were needed.
Ken then further explained his observations to Campbell of the current group of men. He related how the men did not focus on the task as they could be found watching TV over the computers instead of the security cameras, as directed. He described instances of the men on duty not checking in properly nor on time. Campbell, for his part, went to the area called the computer room and saw for himself. The man on duty had a TV channel on one monitor that effectively blocked out six camera views. Needless to say, Campbell went ballistic. The next day twelve new men were being assigned to the detail, and the others were sent back to where ever they came.
Collin gained strength and also was becoming antsy. He wanted something to do. Since it was now late October, the cool weather had begun to set in and he wasn't well enough to fend off catching the flu or a cold, so he was made to stay inside. Ken knew the boy needed companionship, so he talked it over with Campbell and it was agreed that Ryan could come over, but that he would have to be briefed about the security measures. It was further agreed that both Mary and Ryan would be invited to dinner and brought into their confidence.
Up until then, the ruse had so far worked well enough that the media had not caught on that the boy, who had been declared dead, was still very much alive, and living close to where his abductors had kept him. What was unknown to the security team was there was trouble looming from somewhere else. There was one person who did not care about the boy and whether he was dead or alive at all. This person only cared about the revenge he promised the man who made his life a living hell, ever since their first meeting that fateful day after the storm.