Chapter Thirty Two
"Thank you, Collin and Ryan, for extricating me from those people," a relieved Mr. Ken said to the boys as he sat down in his favorite chair.
"Bro, what is that all about?" insisted Collin.
"Oh dear me," started Michael, "I do believe I started something that I shouldn't have. At least, not as public as I did! Boys, I was telling our dates here all about Mr. Ken and some others overheard me and it must have spread like wildfire. I am so very sorry for this, Mr. Thomas!"
"Ryan, we need Dan to get us some security," barked out Collin.
Ryan pulled out what appeared to be a flip phone and he opened it and it gave a deep beep. Then Ryan said into the device, "H3 to S1. Sheriff Dan, we need security at the Theater. We need security, Dan, word has gotten out about Collin and Mr. Ken."
Another deep beep was heard and the reply, "I copy H3. Security there in 30 seconds! Out"
"Mike, I know you didn't mean what happened. It just did. It is funny that it happened right after Thanksgiving, and we've kept it quiet all this time. We were going to talk to the DA after the weekend to allow us to make some public statement about what happened back then, as it was beginning to take a toll on Collin here," said Mr. Ken.
Just then security, well actually a Sheriff Deputy, came into the Theater and asked what she could do. Collin asked her to keep everyone out of the hall leading down that way until Mr. Ken gave the okay. The boys and Mr. Ken then talked some and while they did that their dates decided to go back out to the Teen Dance and see what was happening out there. As they left, Dan Fischer came into the large room to see what had happened.
The band took their break just about the same time as the group went to the theater leaving most of the guests talking about Mr. Thomas being a 'hero' or something. They now began to gather and were milling around the hallway entrance. Just then, a Deputy Sheriff came to the door saying she had someone insisting he be let in. She described the man who said he was some sort of judge.
"Judge Adam?" asked Collin.
"Yes, I believe he said his first name was Adam."
"Let him back here," barked out Collin.
The officer didn't like the attitude and showed it in her demeanor and was going to say something to the boy when Dan told her to "Just do it!" Collin thanked him for that and before long, Judge Adam Richards and his wife were shown into the Theater area.
"Judge, thanks for coming back," said Ken. "How is it out there? What are you hearing?"
"Ken, my boy, there is nothing to worry about," said the Judge. "As I see it, I do believe it would be wise, though, to go out there and talk to them and try to mollify them with some truth and of course a reasonable sprinkling of smoke and mirrors. The 'cat is out of the bag' so to speak, and talking to them without taking questions will get them settled down and then we can get on with this wonderful New Year's Eve bash you're throwing tonight. What do you say, Mr. Thomas?"
"Judge, the DA asked us not to talk about what happened and if I go out there and tell them, won't he get a bit perturbed about that?" asked Ken of Judge Richards.
"The DA can ask many things, but he doesn't have the authority or power to enforce such a request. That, my lad, for him to do would take someone like me issuing a court order in order for him to enforce that edict. I do not believe any such order came down from any local or District Judge, so you can go out there and tell them whatever you like," was the judge's reply for Mr. Ken.
The group discussed the options, but it was going to be up to Mr. Ken and Collin to decide what they would do. The boys' dates came back into the Theater saying that all the kids were asking where Collin and Ryan were. They also explained what the kids had heard and that it wasn't anything like what they knew. After hearing what was happening outside with the teens, it became obvious to them the information floating out there was a mess. It was then that both Mr. Ken and Collin decided they'd each make an announcement to their own group. They'd decided to deal with the DA and any ramifications later. But, before going out to the Great Room to talk to the adults, Ken told all the dates that they'd all sit down in the Study, afterwards and he'd explain the whole mess of affairs.
Collin decided to listen to what his Bro would tell the adults first and he'd try to say nothing more than what he did. He asked Ryan to go out to the Teen Dance area and tell them that there would be an announcement very soon. With everything now settled Deputy Sheriff Fischer went out first and proceeded to the platform to ask the guests to come forward for an announcement. The rest followed a few seconds later and emerged out into the Great Room filled with people. Mr. Ken ascended the bandstand and indicted to Collin to stand on the top step. Looking around at the gathered people, he took a deep breath and began.
"While the band is taking their well-deserved break, I want to take this time to thank each and every one of you for attending this New Year's Eve gala and making it thee most wonderful affair of the year. I am honored that you have so readily accepted me, a relatively newcomer to this area, by your gracious presence here tonight."
A loud round of applause was then given in appreciation of Mr. Ken's words. When the clapping died down some, Ken Thomas began to speak once again.
"As tonight moved merrily along, it became apparent that some information about recent events here at Three Finger Cove may have come to light. I say 'may have' as we all know that at such a large gathering as this people are talking and it is not unusual to hear something being said at another group. That may well be what happened earlier, as someone may have overheard something having to do with me and young Collin over there. It doesn't matter who heard what or about whom, but what does matter is that the truth is explained. I will attempt to do just that without saying too much that will get the DA on my case first thing tomorrow morning. If he was here, I'd ask him to leave before I said anything." The group laughed at the humor in what Mr. Ken just said as many knew how much a hard ass the DA was.
"The word 'hero' was used tonight and it was directed towards me. After I tell you what I can about what transpired here that day you will have to make the determination if that word is appropriate. What I did that day wasn't something that I'd use the word to associate it with me, by no means, because I did what I needed to do at the time; Nothing More; Nothing Less! You all know that a shootout occurred here at the Cove the day after Thanksgiving. During the early morning gun battle, between good and evil, a rouge FBI agent happened to hear a noise, and through his extensive training, took a blind shot and it found me. Subsequently, in his efforts to find a certain young man, he was attacked by our dog, Chief, who bit his gun hand and took him down and out and rendered him painfully unable to hold any gun, even if he wanted to. That is the extent to what happened to my being shot here in this room on that day. I just happened to be in the wrong place at the right time and the bullet found me. End of story!"
The room was so very quiet. A couple of coughs and a few sniffles could be heard but otherwise everyone had remained relatively quiet after Ken stopped talking. Then movement came from Ken's right and Collin came up onto the stage and took over the mike.
"You all heard how he explained that day's events as he saw them. Now let me tell you the background leading up to his being shot."
"Collin, no, you don't have to tell them all that," whispered Mr. Ken at Collin that only a few front row people heard.
"Word came to us early that morning," Collin began, "that some FBI agents were missing. My Big Bro, as I call Mr. Ken, came and got me, and by the way I am that certain young person he was talking about, and showed me where he wanted me to hide. I wanted to stay by his side but he practically forced me into the hiding place. Before that, he retrieved his own gun and told me he had a right to protect himself and his home and the people in it. I knew that he meant me."
"I could hear the shots being fired from where I was hiding. The gun fire sounded pretty intense at first. Then it slowed and then it ended. It was very quiet for maybe four or five minutes and I thought it was over and Mr. Ken would soon come and get me. Then, suddenly, one last shot rang out. That is the shot Mr. Ken just told you about. What he didn't mention was that those men came here that morning to actually kill me in cold blood." At hearing that, there was a gasp that came up through the assembled party goers.
Then Collin continued saying, "The men, who had killed my parents five months earlier, were the same men who kidnapped me. That shot was meant for me ... and Mr. Ken took that bullet to protect me. To me, he will always be a Hero!!"
The assembled guests knew Collin was finished talking when he went over and hugged his Big Bro. The two stood there a few moments hugging one another and then someone began to clap. Then another person did the same and then another and another and before you knew it, the entire Great Room was full of a thunderous applause. People then began getting out their cell phones and started taking pictures of the two hugging at first and then as they stood arm in arm, shoulder to shoulder. The applause lasted for a good ten minutes before Judge Richards took the stage.
"Everyone," said Judge Adam Richards, "from what I heard just now, I forever more, will call Mr. Ken Thomas a Hero! As the presiding County Juvenile Court Judge, I know a lot about what happened, not only on that day, but what also brought Collin to be living here at Three Finger Cove. From the beginning, Mr. Ken did what was needed for that boy, no; I should say young man, over there. He saved that young man's life for the first time, the night of that huge storm. He nursed him back into good health and gave him a family setting within which to grow into the fine outstanding teen you see standing there, tonight. I can see how he has matured from my first meeting with him to how he handled tonight's revelation. For what they have done for each other, and what they did to survive that terrible morning, I think they both deserve another round of applause. What do you say?"
Judge Richards started the applause and it went on for five minutes this time. Ken and Collin both thanked the gathered people and as Collin began to head out to the garage to tell the kids out there he saw they were all standing up on the landing looking over the Great Room. When he looked up at them, they began to clap again and they descended down to greet him and shake his hand. It took Ken and Collin fifteen minutes to get both groups back into their own space and rekindle the revelry intended for the night.
Thirty minutes later, eight people walked down a hallway that led to the Study. A security guard was posted again so as to keep well-wishers at bay. Mr. Ken introduced Mary Anne and Janice and Michael to the young adults. Collin introduced Shelley and Megan and Ryan to the adults. They all found seating and then Mr. Ken proceeded to explain to everyone who he was and why he kept some of the people in the dark. He apologized for his lack of good manners and everyone accepted his heart felt remorse. Collin got Bro's attention by tapping on his watch and Mr. Ken looked over at his desk clock and saw the time was now 11:30 PM. They broke up their meeting and both groups joined their friends for what was going to be the most remarkable and remembered New Year's Eve ever.
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