That same night, Collin and Mr. Ken and Uncle Andy were sitting in the Great Room talking. Chief was there, too, but she was 'glued' to the boy's side and kept looking up every now and then as if to see if he was still there. She had missed her 'boy' and didn't want him to ever leave again. Their talk finally got around to the harassment Collin had suffered and he became a bit defensive. Ken and Andy tried to get him to see that what was happening was serious and he should have said something.
Collin just sat there and said he had to learn how to defend himself and take care of things, his own way. He went on to say he never figured anyone of them would go to that extreme. What he said made sense to the men in one way, but then on the other hand, he had been hurt; so there was sort of an impasse over the whole thing. The three decided to leave it at that for now, realizing it would probably be something they would need to talk about in the near future.
Then Collin decided to try to get his Big Bro to tell him why he needed to be back from school so quick on Wednesday. Ken didn't want to spoil his surprise, but Collin kept at him until he relented.
"Okay, okay, I'll tell you, seeing as you can't ride in the front seats of a vehicle for the next ten days. It will kill me to have to wait that long," said Ken.
"Okay, so what does that mean, Big Bro?" asked the teenager.
"Well, my 'little bro', I wanted to take you to the DMV and get you your learner's permit, so you could begin learning how to drive. You'll be sixteen soon, and then I know you'll want your own car. I wanted to surprise you. Do you think I would have succeeded, young man?"
"Oh yes, Big Bro you would really have succeeded," said Collin. "I never even thought about that and Ryan hasn't mentioned that at all."
As soon as he finished speaking, he got out of his chair and went over and hugged his Big Bro. Immediately, he knew he had forgotten about his sore rib cage and, as he did that, he felt a surge of pain which made him take a quick breathe. Both, Ken and Andy, immediately jumped up to help him, thinking he had reinjured himself and they weren't going to take any chances. They sat the boy back down in his chair and Ken went and got the pain pills and a glass of water. They huddled over the boy until he took a pill and soon Collin began to feel some relief.
As this was all going on, the front doorbell rang and Momma Maria went to answer it. Both Mary and Ryan were there to see Collin even though it was getting late. Maria directed them to the Great Room. It was then that Ryan saw the two men were hovering over his best friend and he was holding his chest. Ryan got so scared and ran down the stairs, almost falling as he went.
"Slow down there, champ. Your best friend is okay. He just forgot he had injured ribs and when he hugged me it was then that he remembered," said Ken to the running teen.
"Collin, are you really okay? You had me so scared yesterday when they told me they took you to the hospital. ...Then I ... Then when I found out why; I was really pissed. We tried to see you last night, but they said they had rules, so we sent you the flowers. Is there anything I can do for you? Now, I am mad at myself for not telling Bro, here. I should have known better," all came rushing out of Ryan's mouth that no one could say a word otherwise.
Mr. Ken then tried to tell Collin how important it was to tell him things, but the boy just wanted to talk to his friend, so he ignored his care giver. The two boys, along with 'mom' and his two overbearing male 'mother hens', sat around and talked about what happened at school that day, and about the morning assembly and then about who turned themselves in. They also talked about the news coverage and what they were going to do this time about the reporters when they heard the front door bell ring.
Maria went to the door and opened it and in walked Judge Richards and his wife Kathleen along with Ms. Judy and Eric. Maria showed them to where everyone was and then she went back to the kitchen. While the adults and kids were talking, Maria got coffee ready and put a few snacks together to take down to them.
Down in the Great Room, Eric had to know what happened and had pestered his mom to take him over there, so he could see Collin, who found himself telling his story once again. He was going to tell the Reader's Digest version but when he saw Eric had such serious concern for his new 'big brother' he told the whole thing all over again. Judge Adam was happy he got to hear that. He then told the gathering what happened in his courtroom earlier that morning. He told them it was the reason he was there.
"Ken, Collin, Mr. Marshall ..." Adam got out before Andrew Marshall said, "Andy, please."
"Okay, Ken, Collin, and Andy, the reason I wanted to come here tonight was to ask you to consider what action you want to take against the attacker," began Adam.
"What? No way," came out of Ryan speaking for himself before Judge Adam could go any further.
"Well, if you could have been in my courtroom earlier today ... you may have had a different opinion. I am not going to tell you what to do and the District Attorney will contact you to see what you want to do. But, I hope you will read the transcript of Rodney's hearing and decide for yourselves. I released Rodney to his mother on his own recognizance after hearing what he had to say, and how he broke down right there in front of the court. I also ordered a psychological examination and he is to stay away from you and any of the other kids who were involved.
"I am also going to have his father investigated as to what was said about him. I'll also get his school transcripts and everything else, I need. I am hoping I can save this young man if everything he said turns out to be true. He'll be eighteen soon but even as a seventeen year old he can be tried as an adult in this state, under certain circumstances. That could mean he'd be in jail with hardened criminals and I think that will destroy this very frightened boy."
"Sure he should be frightened. He put my 'big brother;' in the hospital," yelled out Eric who now had tears in his eyes because of what he was hearing.
"Yes, Eric, I can totally understand what you mean and I don't blame you for saying what you said," replied Judge Richards. "All I can say is that I truly believe this boy needs to be saved but ... well ... Collin here holds the key. I just wanted him to hear what I knew and felt after seeing that scared teen standing before me, falling apart. If you don't mind, I'll get the transcript to you later tomorrow. I hope you will read it. I think I will go now. Thank you for hearing me out. I normally wouldn't do this but knowing you ... well ... I felt like I needed to try."
Judge Richards, showing a long sad face, then stood up and motioned to his wife he was ready to go. As they began walking up the stairs, the room remained very quiet, the remaining people just looking around at each other. Then Collin stood up and said, "Judge, don't go. Stay with us and be our friend!"
The gathered friends talked about recent events and other things as they enjoyed Maria's refreshments, but soon it was time for everyone to go. As people began to get their coats, Ryan whispered to Collin and asked if he could spend the night. Mary heard him and said out loud to him, "No way young man are you spending the night tonight. You have school tomorrow." Now began a short conversation between mother and son. Then Eric was heard saying to his mother, "Geez, I was going to ask if I could stay, too. Collin probably needs someone in case he begins to hurt so they could go get Mr. Ken for him," argued Eric.
Collin didn't know what to do or say. He looked over at his Big Bro for an answer.
"Thank you both for offering to stay with Collin. I was thinking I'd have him either stay with me tonight or I would spend the night up in the extra bed in his room. Since this is a school night, I think your moms are right in saying no," spoke Mr. Ken to the group.
Then Ryan said, "But we could get up and catch the bus up the street as Collin does. And I already have lots of my clothes here so it wouldn't be a problem for me as much as it would be for Eric. Thanks Eric for wanting to help our bro, too, by the way."
Eric had a huge smile on his face as he turned to face his mom. But his mom wasn't convinced he should spend the night, so she shook her head 'NO' at him and his face went from a big smile to a sour puss pout. Those that saw that happen all had a smile put on their face from his antics.
Collin then spoke up and said, "Yea, it is probably best if you guys slept in your own beds tonight. Earlier, when I gave Mr. Ken a hug, I hurt my chest big time. I don't want to keep you up all night. Maybe over the weekend you guys can spend a night each. What do you say to that?"
Ryan and Eric both looked at one another and then smiled and almost simultaneously, said "Okay!" The three boys then laughed along with all the adults standing there. The decision was thusly made and everyone then headed out the front door at the same time.
Then when everyone had left, Collin asked, "Did you really mean it that you would let me sleep with you, or even sleep with me up in my room Mr. Ken." Collin was not sure if Mr. Ken meant what he said or only said it to help Ryan's and Eric's mothers with their decisions.
"Yes, my 'little bro' I meant it. We did sleep together once before, out in Los Angeles, if my memory serves me right, and we lived through, it didn't we?" he answered and laughed when he finished.
"Yes, we did, but I fell asleep on your bed as we were talking. I didn't know I was there until you woke me in the morning. Does that count Uncle Andy?" responded the lad.
"Yes, my lad, in my book it counts," and then Andy began to laugh as well.
"Okay, so what do you want to do Mr. Ken? Sleep down here or up in my room? Take your choice," offered Collin.
"Collin, I'm going to let you decide. You know how sore your chest is so you need to decide. If we are in the same bed together, you could injure your chest, or ribs, again if we were to bump into one another as we turned over. If we are up in your room, I would be right there if you needed me, in the spare bed. There is no chance of us hitting one another and you getting hurt some more. So, what do you want to do? It is up to you, young man."
Collin thought there for a minute or two and then agreed it would be best if they used his room. He decided he didn't want to hurt again, like he had earlier. Andy then said his good nights and Chief ran outside to do her thing. Collin began his walk upstairs when Ken told him to use the elevator, which he gladly did.
Ken then went to his bedroom and changed into some boxer briefs and then headed upstairs to Collin's room. When he got up there he could smell that a 'boy' lived in that room. He made a mental note to make sure they aired out the room, or maybe repaint it. He also told himself he needed to talk to that boy about his 'hygiene habits' and he had to laugh to himself that he was even considering doing that.
Collin came back from the bathroom dressed only in boxers as well. They said their good nights and shared a hug. Chief had returned by then and she took up her normal place at the foot of Collin's bed. Being it was late, and he had taken a pain pill before going up to his room, it didn't take the young teenager long to fall fast asleep. As for Ken, he stayed up and watched the boy sleep and then lying back himself, he, too, fell asleep almost as fast. Only Chief could hear both of them breathing deeply in their sleep. She had her master and her 'boy' together in one place and she was very happy for that.
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