Castle Roland

Chapter 9

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Agent Campbell insisted that Mr. Thomas get to a hospital and get that gunshot wound immediately attended to. Ken had no intention of doing so until he got Collin out of that locked Safety Room and made sure he was OK. The two men got to the back Electrical Room and Ken did something that caused an electrical panel to open revealing a locked steel door. Ken rapped on the door in a series of knocks and the door slowly opened and a very happy 15 year old teenager, seeing his Big Bro, jumped into his arms.

"Hold on there partner. My ... my arm, I can't hold you!" exclaimed Ken at the teen.

"What? Oh ... Mr. Ken, I wish I could have been there to help you. ... Wait! Oh, man look ... there's blood! It '... it's all over! You, you're shot! You ... you took a bullet ... for me! Are ... are you gonna be Ok ? Please, please tell me you're gonna be OK, Mr. Ken!" After seeing all that blood on Mr. Ken, Collin began to cry. Then he said between sobs, "I'll never ever be able to forget ... forget everything you ... you did to save me!" and then the teen just totally broke down and cried even harder.

Once they got outside, it was obvious there were many men hurt during the assault. Ken saw at least five body bags and five ambulances waiting to take away the injured. There also had to be at least 50 police officers representing five different jurisdictions helping with crowd control and the processing of those arrested and the reporting of the incident. Mr. Thomas also saw there were throngs of reporters wanting to enter the grounds and take pictures and otherwise be a nuisance and he knew they would invade his personal space.

Not wanting any of that to happen, he directed the Sheriff Deputies to arrest any person who entered his property as Trespassers. He explained it was his property and he was giving no one authorization to enter, except needed government agents and police officers, unless he personally cleared it. It wasn't long after, that Mr. Thomas and a very happy youth were whisked away to the nearest hospital. Many onlookers, who saw them enter the ambulance, thought the lad had also been injured as he was a bloody mess all along his right side. Unknown to them Collin had Ken's blood on him from when he hugged the man down in the Electrical Room. Now that the danger appeared to be over, Collin demanded to go along as his injured guardian was taken to the hospital for treatment.

"This just in, a shooting has occurred at Three Finger Cove" is what Ryan heard over his radio as he was lying there in bed awake even though it was a school holiday, "This morning's gun battle, over at the estate known as Three Finger Cove, leaves at least six dead and scores injured. The gun battle was said to have begun at about 5 o'clock this morning and escalated quickly according to eye witness accounts," and with that said Ryan went running to find his mom and tell her what he just heard.

"Mom, mom wake up; come quick," Ryan yelled at the top of his lungs running into his mom's bedroom clad only in his white briefs, "there's been a shooting over at Mr. Ken's and six people are dead. Hurry we got to find out if he was injured. Come on mom wake up!"

"Ryan, what is all this yelling about a shooting and people dead at Three Finger Cove?" inquired a still sleepy eyed Mary.

"Mom...on the radio...just now...the reporter said that there was a shooting at Three Finger Cove. You gotta get up! We need to find out if anything happened to Mr. Ken, and...and what about Collin? They must have been after him, mom! Hurry we got to know!" continued Ryan.

By then Mary had turned on her radio and heard, "We just learned more about this morning's shooting at Three Finger Cove. Sources close to the scene said that the owner of Three Finger Cove, a Mr. Ken Thomas, has not been seen nor heard from. Some other people did say they saw a man meeting his description and a teenaged boy enter an ambulance and both were covered in blood. Our reporters at the hospital say the hospital will not say how many people they are treating and they will not release any names of the injured until their next of kin have been notified. Eye witness accounts have said there are six body bags lying on the side of the fence near the Cove's Guard Shack entrance and the coroner was already there to take the bodies to the morgue to identify who they are and perform an autopsy if necessary.

"We will continue to interrupt today's broadcasts throughout the day when further information is received. This again from the scene of this morning's bloody gun battle at Three Finger Cove where there are at least six people dead and many more seriously injured and there has been no sign of the owner who was known to be home the day before hosting a Thanksgiving dinner with some friends. Stay tuned for further developments," and the radio announcer turned the microphone over to the current host.

"Mom we gotta find out what's happened to Mr. Ken and Collin. They said they were both all bloody. We gotta find out how bad they are hurt. Hurry up mom and let's get over there!" begged Ryan.

"Okay Ryan, hold your horses! First they said the injured were taken to the hospital, so we'll stop by there first, Okay? Then, if they aren't there we'll go over to the house and try to talk to Agent Campbell. Let's get dressed and then we'll go. Will that work for you? I'm sure you don't want to go out there dressed as you are," Mary said as she pointed to her 15 year old son standing there only his tight white briefs.

"Yikes!" was the only thing Ryan said as he headed back to his room to get dressed.

Over at the hospital there was mayhem throughout the emergency department. Ambulances seemed to be coming non-stop with the injured, some accompanied by armed police officers to guard many of them. Nurse Kirby was on duty and helped triage the injured when she came upon a man she thought could be Mr. Thomas. There was a boy with him but she had no idea who he was and why he might be with the man. She also noticed they were both bloodied. After a few moments she decided to find out who they were so she went over to the mysterious man and teenager and introduced herself only to find out that indeed it was none other than Mr. Thomas. The man she talked to the other night.

Ken introduced Collin to her and she wheeled him into an open room where she did an initial assessment of his injury and of Collin's. She was relieved that the boy only had blood on his clothes and was not injured but she did tell Mr. Thomas his injury looked like it was a clean entrance and exit wound and all he should need would be to have it cleaned and then some stitches but that would be up to the doctors. Nurse Kirby then left to find a physician to possibly help Mr. Ken.

Collin went over to Ken and hugged the man again and began to cry some. He knew the man had done something to protect him and he felt extremely lucky and grateful that he did that for him. He knew others were more seriously injured as they were the next to last ambulance to leave the grounds. He'd also seen the body bags and knew some men had been killed. Thinking it could have been Mr. Ken or Agent Campbell or even him his tears increased in volume.

"Take it easy there, Collin! The world didn't end today. I'm going to be okay and ... and so are you. Hopefully, the worst is over for you and you can get back to living without fear. We now know who was behind all this. Do you know someone named Dennis Clarke?"

"Yeah, he's my fath ... was my father's right hand man. What did he have to do with it?" asked Collin.

"Well, from what I got from Stouffer, as he was running his mouth, after he shot me, it seems that maybe this man, Clarke, was the master mind of the whole thing. Your parents were not supposed to die that night, he said. That man, Mark, took a gun when he was told not to, and when your mom hit him where no man wants to be hit, Stouffer said he went berserk and started shooting. He told me all this down in the Great Room so the audio is bound to be on the computer disks, so we can confirm exactly what he said. I know that won't bring back your mom and dad but at least we now know who is to blame!"

After that revelation to Collin, both man and boy held tightly onto one other as out in the hallways people and gurneys were going in all directions passed their room. It was now only 8:30 AM.

Out in the waiting area there was as much or more mayhem with the reporters and camera crews trying to get past security to get pictures and interview the injured. By that time, Mary and Ryan had arrived at the hospital trying to find out if Mr. Thomas had been brought in and if there was there a 15 year old boy also brought in with him. Some nearby reporter, hearing there may be a 15 year old boy involved in the shooting, went over to get some information from them that maybe he could use as background in any report he might later file.

Meanwhile, back in the emergency room, Nurse Kirby, Joanne, was able to free up a physician to get him to look at Mr. Thomas' wound. After looking at it for a few minutes, the doctor said he'd be right back and in about ten minutes he brought back another doctor with him. Both examined the wound and the first doctor said he could wash it out and stitch it up and it would heal if no infection set in. The other physician asked Mr. Thomas if he wanted it to heal faster and get those injured muscles repaired so he could use that arm in two to three months rather than 4 to 6 or more. Ken opted for the 2 to 3 months and then the second doc, who was a plastic surgeon, looked to find an open operating room he could use. Joanne tried to get the boy to leave but he refused, telling her he wasn't leaving his only Big Brother as he was all he had. Hearing that, her heart melted for the teen.

Back at the estate, reporters and camera crews were yelling they had a right to the crime scene and they wanted in. The only way onto the property, though, was through either the guarded entryway, which had double wide drives on either side of the Guard Shack, closed off with steel gates, or from along the extended shore line from the lake. Getting tired of hearing their complaints of not being allowed to enter, Deputy Fischer asked them if any of them they owned the place. Getting no response, he asked this time if anyone had permission of the owner to access the premises. Again hearing no takers he told them all to go away as they would not gain entry without meeting either of those two requirements. He let them know the owner had left strict directions that no one was to have entry, and if anyone did enter, they would be arrested as trespassers. None of the reporters liked that and began to set up their camera crews to report the outrageous behavior of the police and their refusal to allow them access.

The reporter out in the ER waiting area was being persistent in trying to get any information from Mary and Ryan. In refusing to answer his questions, Mary got irate and yelled something that caught the ear of Joanne and she went over to them. The reporter quickly ignored the Taylor's and tried to get the nurse to answer some questions about the people who were brought in from the shooting. Having nothing to do with that man, and seeing how these other people were being treated, she pulled Mary and her son into the security area just to get them away from the bothersome man.

Once inside, Ryan hurriedly spoke to the nurse about Mr. Thomas and a boy named Collin. He told her Mr. Ken was the owner of the place where the shootings occurred and was his employer and he needed to know if he, they were okay. After getting it all out, he broke down in tears and was comforted by his mother.

"Ahh ... Nurse ... Nurse Kirby is it. Mr. Thomas has been like an older brother to him for the better part of two and half years, now, and, Ryan here, has become very attached to the man. If there is any way you can give him some ray of hope the man is okay I would be extremely grateful."

"Now, ain't this something? In one day, I have two lads who claim the same man as 'the next BEST thing since sliced bread'. Why sure, I can help you there, but I'll do you one better. Follow me!" With that, the three went down the ER hall to the room holding both Mr. Thomas and Collin.

Entering the room, and seeing his 'big brother' lying on the bed, Ryan dashed to the man and hugged him and began crying his heart out.

"Oww, oww, oww that hurts, little bro, can I ... I have my injured arm back," Ken joked at the now embarrassed teenager. "I'm happy to see you, too, young man!"

"Mr. Ken, Bro, I was afraid I'd lost you. I don't know what I would have done if you somehow left me!" the still crying teen said back.

Ken lightly pulled the lad to him and tried to comfort him as best he could and told him, "Ryan, thank you for saying what you did. I care a lot about you, too, and I would feel the same if you left me, too." Then looking at Collin he said, "The same about you, too, young man. You two are definitely keepers."

"Thank you for bringing him, Mary. I owe you! What are they saying about what happened back at the Cove? I haven't heard anything," Ken said to Mary.

"They are saying there was a shootout that started about 5 AM this morning and that at least six men are dead and many more are seriously wounded and the local police will not release any information until the preliminary investigation is done. The reporters back there are furious that they can't get onto the grounds. Deputy Fischer told them they needed your okay before they could get in," reported Mary to Ken.

"Bro ... what happened to you?Collin, are you okay?Did you have to get into the secure room?Wow ... you ... you're all full of blood.Is there anything we can do for you guys?" Was shouted out in one breath by a hyper Ryan.

"Ryan, Mary, I can't tell you too much just yet. But as you can see, I was shot. It was by a rouge agent who helped in the assault to get Collin here. He heard a noise and shot in that direction and got a lucky hit. Chief took care of him, though, and bit his shooting hand big time. Well, he won't need that hand anyways where he will be going after they try him.

"Speaking of treatments, a plastic surgeon is going to perform surgery on my arm. He said the bullet went right through and with this surgery I should be as good as new again in two to three months. The doc says the muscle needs to be properly reconnected and that way it will heal faster and better rather than letting it heal on its own and begin to reconnect naturally."

"So you are the man I talked to on the phone the other day. That man you asked about. Was he one of them that attacked you?" Joanne asked out of the blue.

"Yes, I am that man and your information helped tremendously, as it gave us a name and an address for Ryan to get some pictures. Then Collin here looked at what was taken and he identified one of the guys who killed his parents. You really helped us out a lot, don't think you didn't."

Just then the doctor came back with some surgical nurses. He explained they would get him prepped for surgery and it would take less than two hours for the surgery and seeing it was still early he might get to go home tonight.

As they began to wheel Mr. Thomas out of the room, Ken stopped them and called Mary and Ryan over. He asked them to keep an eye on Collin for him, and if Ryan had his cameras with him. Learning Ryan had his camera equipment, both the Digital SLR and HD Video Camera; he asked to use their cell phone and called Phillip.

"Phil, Ken here ... yeah, I'm doing Ok ... yea, just a flesh wound, hehe. Anyways ... I need a favor. ... I have Ryan and his mom here and ... and I want Ryan to be given exclusive access to the entire house and grounds to take pictures and videos for me for my insurance and of course for historical documentation. Let him see everything, if that's okay with his mom. Collin will be with them and he'll take care of Chief for me. I might be back later tonight, after they do some minor surgery. ... Yeah, ... full access and keep those reporters and camera crews off my property. Ryan will have the exclusive rights to all photos and can then sell those to them to use for his college fund," he finished winking at Ryan and his mom.

"Ok, Collin, you go with Mary and Ryan here. Campbell will give you complete access, Ryan, and I want you to take pictures like you've never taken before. Everything, you hear me, everything! And yes, you will have exclusive rights to those pictures and can sell them for a good price to those reporters. Phil will take care of letting them know that. The front door is a good place to start taking pictures for sure with all its damage. The pool window is broken and ... well, you'll see. Mary, could you call my lawyer, Bill Jackson? Ask him to get someone out to fix the broken windows, so I can keep some heat in. I'd better go. Thanks!"

As Ken Thomas was being wheeled down the corridor, he yelled out to Mary, "Oh, and ask him to explain what Ryan needs to do to sell those pictures."

And with that, they wheeled Ken off for surgery and Joanne showed them a different way out to avoid that pesky reporter. Collin reluctantly went with them but he couldn't do anything there and at least this way he could also see what damage there was and take care of Chief, too.

It was almost 11 AM when they arrived at the Cove and Deputy Fischer was waiting and allowed them to drive right on in. The reporters became incensed, but they knew it was a losing cause. Then when they saw the young teenager being allowed to take pictures and shoot some video they began to insist they be allowed in, too, complaining he was getting what they all wanted. Hearing their complaint, Fischer had the pleasure of telling them that the boy had exclusive rights to all pictures and video from the scene, by authority of the owner and they would have to negotiate with his mother for any of those. He left them standing there with their mouths wide open but before long, they all had their cell phones out trying to get permission to buy all the pictures and or videos they wanted.

Out on the lake side of the property, one resourceful independent reporter had obtained access to a boat and landed it at the dock. Not being challenged, he snuck up to the house and began taking pictures. Inside, in the kitchen, Collin had gotten Chief her food and water when her ears perked up and she sprang out and ran barking through the house. Collin got scared that maybe another guy had survived somehow so he went straight out through the garage and yelled for help.

"Dan, Dan, there's someone left alive in the house," yelled a terrified Collin.

Deputy Fischer heard the teen's cries and ran to the frantic boy.

"Chief went running and barking," continued Collin, when Dan got to him. "I'm scared there may be someone left alive they didn't find," Collin finally got out through his tear streaked eyes.

"Fischer, to all agents and officers. Red Alert! We have Condition RED. The dog went after someone in the house. I repeat we have a Red Alert the dog went after someone inside the house. Collin is with me near the Guard Shack," Deputy Fischer got out over the two-way radio.

The reporters saw and heard the entire action from Collin's frantic cries as he ran for Deputy Fischer and the TV Camera Crews got it all on tape and they called it in. Within five minutes, the TV Stations and Ancillary Radio Stations were breaking into their broadcasts and standing by for the latest news from the scene. The reporters who got it on first were the happiest, as this was the first tangible thing they had all morning. They all took advantage of the air time and repeated what they had said much earlier but this time they had pictures of a crying boy with the deputy calling in the actual Red Alert. That pronouncement, for now, would be the lead in for the news casts for the evening and late night news telecasts that day.

Back in the house, Chief found the intruder and attacked the man with vigor. It was as if she was taking everything out that happened to her master on that man. If it weren't for Ryan and Phillip and another agent, she would have seriously injured the snoop. Campbell canceled the Red Alert and asked Deputy Fischer to bring Collin to the Great Room.

Ryan found the man had a camera and asked him what he was doing.

"I was taking pictures; what do you think I was doing, taking a bath? Now give me back my camera and I'll be on my way," the man said, trying to sound important and unassailable.

"I don't think so," said Ryan. "You see, ONLY I have the exclusive rights to any pictures and videos from the scene, and anything you have on this camera was obtained illegally. And anyways, you will be placed under arrest for trespassing, seeing that now you are inside the house, and probably for burglary as well. The camera will be taken as evidence."

By then, Collin and Dan entered the Great Room and went over to the area just off the pool where the intruder entered into the house. Agent Campbell explained who the man was, and how he got in there and what he was doing. He did that so Collin wouldn't have any nightmares that night thinking there were other men hiding and waiting for him.

Phil asked Dan to take the man in for questioning with the charges of trespassing and the potential charges for burglary, since he was found inside the home. Dan handcuffed the snooper and took him up front and placed him into a squad car. Of course the newsmen got all that on video and another break in to broadcasting was arranged.

The remainder of the morning and into the early afternoon, Ryan, along with his mom and Collin, as well as Chief, roamed the house and grounds and took pictures of everything they thought was news worthy. Seeing is believing, and what they saw was shocking at first and too overwhelming when they took it all in as a whole. The biggest things were the front door riddled with a tremendous number of bullet marks and wood chips all over. The second was the broken pool window which was six feet high and four feet wide; and third; was the many bullet marks and nicks on the outside house walls, and lastly, the multiple bullet holes in the triple pane windows of the Great Room. The area that got to Collin, though, was the large blood stain where Ken was standing while Stouffer told him about the assault and how it all came to be.

About 2 o'clock in the afternoon, Ryan downloaded all the pictures and video he shot. He sorted them into 'packages' to offer the different television stations and newspapers. While the boys continued working with the digital pictures and video, Mary made some phone calls to the television stations' news divisions and local newspaper editors informing them there were exclusive pictures and video available to them at reasonable prices. Bill Jackson talked to Mary earlier when she called about him getting the windows boarded up and gave her good advice on how to price the content Ryan had taken. Within 30 minutes of Mary's calls, six representatives arrived and left 30 minutes later very happy people for the pictures and videos they each bought.

Ryan's initial intuition and decision to group his offerings into different bundles so that no two packages were alike paid off royally. The bidders saw and knew what they were bidding on and bought what they wanted to afford. In the end, they could all claim they had exclusive pictures and video that no other station or newspaper had. Ryan was a very happy teenager that evening. He sold six different packages for differing prices because some bundles had better offerings than others. He also got contact names and phone numbers from each of the organizations represented, that afternoon. Every news agency was impressed with his pictures due to the superb quality and interest, or story, the pictures told. This surprised them all, coming from someone so young.

Several hours later, Mary fixed the boys a snack while waiting for word on Mr. Ken's surgery. Just after 8 PM, Campbell reported that Mr. Thomas was ready to come home and asked if someone could come get him. The boys practically dragged Mary to her car and they literally flew to the hospital to pick up their hero.

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