Castle Roland

Chapter 19

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Christmas week looked like a 'Chinese Fire Drill'. Mr. Thomas had to drive Collin out to the stores to do some shopping and at the same time he needed to get some additional shopping done as well. Mr. Ken never knew who Collin was buying gifts for, but he figured one present was for his best friend Ryan and maybe one for his new ‘mom', Miss Mary.

Ken and Collin, and probably Ryan, all needed to plan more for the New Year's Eve parties so the trio knew what was expected in the ways of food and decorations and music. All that needed to be in place as quickly as possible so they wouldn't have any unexpected surprises come up one or two days before the events. The caterer that supplied the Holiday Parties was onboard for the New Year's Eve parties as well, as was the Sheriff's Deputies and their Police Explorer's for parking and security. Their biggest concern right now had to be the music.

Collin agreed a DJ doing his thing with records would be just as good for the teenagers as a live band, so he wasn't too excited. Mr. Ken, on the other hand, wanted a live 5 or more piece band which could provide a variety of music. He had invited another number of 'Who's Who' of the State and County politicians and local residents and wanted to make his mark again in the social circles. By Christmas Eve, Mr. Ken had phoned eight various local bands, but he still had no band engaged for his New Year's Eve Party. It seemed that all the known and even the least known groups were contracted out already for that special evening. Ken was very worried his night of nights would be a bust.

Christmas morning, Ken went upstairs and woke Collin up to wish him a Merry Christmas. Ken rarely went up there, but this morning he wanted to make this a very special time for his 'little bro'.

"Ho ho ho, Merry Christmas, Collin," called out Ken. "Wake up, little bro, and come see what Santa brought you!"

"Huh, wha ... what the ... are you crazy," a sleepy young teenager got out as he barely lifted his head off his pillow. "What time is it? It is way too early to get up. Leave me alone,"

"Come on, Collin. Today's the day that every kid has been waiting for. You remember Santa checks his List twice and I think he found you a very worthy young man this year. You're Christmas Presents await you downstairs in the Great Room. Come on. Get up, Collin. Get up," Ken spoke to the teen who was still lying there but now with his eyes wide open.

"Ok, ok, I'll get up. Is it okay if I use the bathroom first? You want me to take a shower?" Collin asked stalling for time. He had his morning wood and didn't want to be embarrassed in front of Mr. Ken.

"OK, okay, I understand. I was young once, too, you know. I know I didn't want to get out of bed while someone was standing there because, well ... well .... Ok, I'll tell you what. I'll go back down and meet you at the Christmas tree. We're going out for Christmas Brunch at 11, and it is only 8 now. If you want to take a shower now go for it otherwise, just come on down when you're ready. I'll be waiting for you," Ken said as he went over to the lad and swatted him on his backside through the covers and then left.

Collin got out of bed as Mr. Ken left his room. Collin's wood wasn't as stiff now and after taking a piss he knew it would go down a lot more. He decided not to shower just yet as he wanted to get some 'relief' before they went out for Brunch. He had a good dream going when Big Bro got him up and he wanted to relive it some and enjoy what he knew would be a very happy and explosive ending.

Collin got dressed in nice clothes and used the elevator to get to the Great Room faster. Bro was waiting there for him with a huge smile on his face. As Collin got near the tree Ken grabbed the boy and hugged him close and tight and said, "Merry Christmas, my little bro. Thank you for making this Christmas a very happy Christmas for me," and breaking the hug, Ken lightly kissed the teen on his forehead.

Collin blushed as the man kissed him. He loved the hugs Mr. Thomas gave him. He always felt safe and secure when he was in his arms and being hugged. This was the first time he could ever remember getting a 'fatherly kiss' from the man. It was something his dad used to do before he turned thirteen and this one brought back those wonderful memories.

"Collin, you ok there little bro?" a puzzled Mr. Ken asked as he looked into the lads eyes and saw some distance in them.

"Oh ... oh, yea, I'm ... I'm fine! I was remembering something ... I ... when you kissed my forehead I remembered my ... my dad used to do that to me, too. Mr. Ken ... Bro ...," and the boy couldn't finish as he broke down in tears as he remembered all the Christmases he had with his mom and dad that he would no longer have.

Collin cried, and cried hard, for some time and all Ken could do was to hold the teen and comfort him as best he could. Mr. Ken figured this Christmas would be the lads worst. The boy had lost his parents and watched them die in front of his eyes not more than five months ago. The boy wasn't apt to forget that for a very, very long time. Ken knew the boy was now reliving all those past Holidays with his parents and it would be a while before the kid would be ready to enjoy this Christmas.

Twenty minutes passed and the two were still standing there when Ken began massaging the boys back and shoulders. Collin stood there hanging on to the man who had saved him and began to recover from his pain. The teen stood back some from Ken and looked into the man's eyes and said, "Thank you, Mr. Ken. I ... I didn't know how I would get through this. You always know what to do and what to say. Thank you for being the best guy ever." Collin then hugged the man with all his might to show him how much he appreciated everything Mr. Thomas had done for him.

"Thank You, Collin. Do you think you are ready to celebrate this Christmas morning?"

"Yea, I think I'm ready. I mean ... I'll try. I know you went through a lot of trouble for me. It is hard though ... this is my first ... first Christmas without mom and dad and ... well it isn't as if I am not grateful for what you've done for me. I really love you, Mr. Ken. You are the older brother I really needed to have. I don't think anyone back home could have been able to do what you've done for me. I know they would have meant well but ... well they would have treated me like ... I'm not sure what they would have done. I think they would have made it a somber time with my parents not there and the way they were killed.

"You didn't do that, Bro! You kept me busy and in the Holiday spirit and made this all fun for me. It wasn't until ... until you kissed me like that that I ... it finally hit me. I know in time I will get over what happened to them and to me eventually. Of all of the things that I can really appreciate is that you were there for me and with me. You cried with me and hugged me and comforted me when I needed it. Mr. Ken, I don't know how I will ever be able to repay you for all you've ... you've done for me. I hope one day, though, I will be able to do just that."

Collin hugged his Big Bro for a few more moments and then said he was ready to enjoy Christmas with his new family. Just then Chief nosed her way in between the two and wanted some attention now, too.

Ken handed the gifts he bought Collin, one at a time. He wanted the boy to really take notice what he got and he wanted to talk to him about each item. The reason Mr. Thomas did this was he had a recollection in the back of his mind that he once used to do just that. He somehow recalled at Christmas each person would open one present at a time so everyone there could see it. Then the next person would open a gift and comment about it and so on until everyone had opened all their gifts. He remembered it took a long time but it was fun as everyone saw what everyone else got. For the life of him, though, he couldn't remember much of his life back before his eighteenth birthday.

Collin wanted to rip open a present, look at it, and get to the next. He didn't want to wait to see what it actually was since that was what he did before. Now Mr. Ken made him slow down and look at each item and consider how it would be best used. As the lad did that, to every present, he began to understand what his Bro was doing. Taking his time to inspect each and every gift and talk about it gave him more appreciation for the present and saw how it would help him in the future. This was something he thought he would do with his own family, if he decided to have one, in many years to come.

"Thank you oh so much for everything, Bro. The Dell laptop will definitely come in handy for school, once I start with Ryan, and the gang. The Xbox is awesome, too. The guys all have something like this and they talk about how good they are. Now I'll be able to practice and maybe even beat them. And, I love all the cologne you got for me! They all smell awesome. I know you use some of these. I guess you caught me stealing some for my own use at the parties and knew I would like them, too. Thanks! The clothes are cool, too. It will be nice to go to school and be wearing the latest stuff. That way I won't be laughed at. You know how important it is to blend in at my age and not stand out too much," was what Collin said about his Christmas presents.

"Bro," said Collin. "I have a gift for you, too! That day 'mom' Mary and Ryan took me shopping ... well; I didn't know what to get the guy who has enough money to get whatever he wants. I searched and searched all over and I had no clue. Then Ryan and I came across this unique store and there it was – your Christmas present. I hope you like it." Collin then went to the side of the platform the tree stood on and retrieved his present for Mr. Ken.

Ken opened the box and was taken aback from what he saw. There sat what he now considered the most wonderful present of all. Collin got him an old time American Flyer Steam Engine. Collin remembered hearing his Bro say there should be a train running underneath the tree the day the tree was finished being decorated. Collin knew his mentor didn't have a train set so when he saw one that day in that antique store he decided right then and there that that was what he wanted to get the man for Christmas.

After deciding to get a train for Ken as his present, Collin had looked all around and didn't like the modern train sets they now sold. He wanted something for the man who was unique in his own right. He talked to his friends who told him what they knew about the different track gauges. He even did a Google search and did a lot of research on older antique trains. He soon decided that the American Flyer brand was what he should look for. The American Flyer trains, he found out, are the most realistic and most detailed of them all but no longer being produced by the original company. The trains built prior to1966 are considered the best ones and the one he found for Mr. Ken had been built back in the 1950s.

"Collin, where on earth did you ever find such a wonderful present? I love this. This is an 'S' gauge American Flyer train made by the A. C. Gilbert Company of Chicago, Illinois, if I am not mistaken. This is a Hudson 4-6-4 Steam Engine with 'smoke', chugging sounds, a working bell and whistle and a headlight. This is so awesome Collin. How did you ever think of such a thoughtful present?"

"Well, the day they decorated the tree ... you said something about there 'needed to be a train running around underneath it'. So, I did some asking around and some internet research and when I saw that in that specialty store I knew that was what I should get you," replied the teenager.

"Thank you so very much, Collin. I will cherish this forever. I will now have to get more rolling stock and accessories so we can have this under next year’s Christmas tree. Come over here and let me give you a big hug."

The two sat together for a few minutes enjoying each other’s company and talking about this and that. Even Chief got into the act as she jumped up onto the couch and began licking the two guys.

Time passed quickly and soon they needed to leave each other’s company and get ready to go to brunch. Collin went one way while Ken went another while still beaming over the Christmas present he received. He knew this present would be something he would always remember. The gift was something out of the blue from an off handed comment. He loved it.

Collin went up to his room and didn't take matters into hand as he thought he would earlier. He just sat on his bed thinking of how the day went so far. He was very pleased that Mr. Ken liked his present. Collin wasn't sure if that was the right thing to get, but it sure sounded like it was and that made the lad even happier. Collin then got his shower and dressed into his new suit and went downstairs to wait for his Bro.

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