A few minutes later, Collin and Ken were driving along, in their chauffeured limo, next to a major highway where lots and lots of car dealerships were located, but Collin still hadn't even noticed. When the limo began to slow down, and then pull into one, Collin's eyes began to get wide. He looked back and forth to the row upon row of cars then he looked into Mr. Ken's eyes and smiled and he said, "We're gonna look ... at cars? Are we gonna look at a car ... for me?" asked Collin.
"Yes, what do you think about that?" he was asked back.
Collin just smiled his biggest smile ever and, as he did that, the limo came to a stop. The driver got out and went back to open the rear door for Mr. Ken and Collin to get out. By then, four car salesmen came out to greet them and they all wanted to assist them in their purchase.
"Gentlemen, thank you for your offered assistance. We want to walk around and view what you have and talk about them, alone. So if you would kindly leave us for now, if we have found anything we like, we'll be sure to find one of you. Thank you," was all Mr. Ken had to say to them and then the two of them began to walk and talk.
Ken wanted to get an idea of what Collin liked and he also wanted to advise him on certain vehicles if the lad was interested in something that had a history of mechanical problems and or a poor accident injury record. They stopped at a few cars but when they looked inside the interiors looked worn or when Collin sat in them the seat was uncomfortable. They must have walked around the used car lot for a good forty-five minutes when Collin asked, "Why are we looking at used vehicles and not brand new ones, Mr. Ken? I can afford one of those, you know."
"Yes, Collin you can afford one of those, but I felt that if you had a used vehicle, at first, it wouldn't matter too much if you dented it a few times in the beginning. Also, we must realize that if you were driving a brand new whatever and were in an accident the other people would take you to the cleaners, money wise."
Hearing that, Collin gave his guardian and incredulous stare that said tell him more.
"So, you don't think they'd do that do you? Well then let me ask you how do you think they'd react seeing a sixteen year old getting out of a brand new XYZ vehicle. Don't you think they'd see that 'daddy' has money and the dollar signs begin to glow in their eyes? Then their cries of pain and suffering would be heard all the way to the courthouse?" asked Ken.
"Well, I guess they could do that, but they could do that anyway. At least I'd have good protection being in the new car and that would keep me from being hurt," replied Collin.
"Yes, the new protections in today's cars are getting better, but don't you think I'd not allow you to have a vehicle that wouldn't protect you anyway. I'm afraid, Collin, that people today are only after what they can get and the freer and easier the better. Then there are the unscrupulous lawyers who, when they find out who you are, and believe me, they will find out, they will begin asking for all sorts of money for pain and suffering and loss of work, etc. Your Uncle Andy and I talked about this very thing. That is why your dad didn't want you taking Driver's Education when you turned fifteen. He was real mad at your mother when she signed the papers. He knew what it would mean if you ever were in an accident, and it was your fault."
"So that's how you got my Driver's Ed certificate, otherwise we couldn't have gotten my permit, could we?"
"That is true, Collin. When I mentioned to Andy, that I wanted for you to get your driver's permit, he mentioned you had taken the Driver's Ed already and already had almost three months of driving experience. All he had to do was call them and they sent him a copy. I'm glad he and I talked. It would have been very embarrassing to take you there today without all the needed documents, including the Driver's Training. I am very glad for that! Okay, now what kind of vehicle do you want to look at?"
The two of them looked some more at that dealership and then they went on to two more Used Car places but they never seemed to find one that appealed to Collin. To end the day and celebrate Collin's new status, they stopped at Dairy Queen where each of them got a medium Strawberry Blizzard. When they got home, later that evening, Momma Maria was mad as she could be as they hadn't called her, so dinner was ruined. That was one lesson neither of them would soon forget.
It was almost 8 PM when Collin's cell phone rang. He looked at the caller I.D. and saw it was Eric calling him. It was then that Collin remembered he promised, both Eric and Ryan, they each could spend one night with him. Collin looked at Mr. Ken while the phone continued to ring and explained very quickly what was going on. Mr. Ken told him to handle it and Collin answered the phone on the fifth ring.
"Hi Eric, sorry it took me so long to answer. What's up?"
"Ah, Collin" began Eric, "you said ... ah last night that ah ... we could spend the night with you and ...ah I tried calling earlier but no one answered. Ah ... ah will it be Ok if I ah ... spent the night with you tonight? If not, that's Ok; I will understand," offered Eric with a lot of hope in his voice. Collin could hear the pleading in the youngster's voice but he didn't know what to do so he turned to Mr. Ken.
"Eric, hang in there while I talk to Mr. Ken, ok?"
"Mr. Ken, I goofed up. I forgot I told Eric and Ryan last night they each could spend the night with me. I know it is late, but what should I do?" a frantic Collin asked. But before Ken could answer him, his cell phone rang again as he had placed Eric on Hold. This time it was Ryan and Collin's eyes got wide open when he saw who it was.
"Hi Ryan are you calling to see if you can spend the night?"
Mr. Ken sat back and listened as he heard only one side of the conversation but he could tell that the boy's best friend had called about the same thing Eric had called about.
"Yeah, Eric is on Hold as we speak. It is late ... I know, I know you've been here later but ... but I got to ask Mr. Ken first. Eric wants to spend the night, too. ... Okay, hold on."
"Eric, are you still there? Ryan just called too and he wants to spend the night as well. ... Okay, let me see what Mr. Ken has to say," and with that Collin looked to his guardian, with as big a pair of puppy dog eyes he could make, seeking help with an answer.
"Tell 'em both, we'll come get them," was all Mr. Ken said to Collin.
"Eric, we'll be there as soon as we can. Get your stuff ready and be ready. ... Yes, yes bring your swim suit," was what Ken heard as he then listened as Collin selected Ryan's call to tell him the same thing.
"Thanks, Mr. Ken, I didn't know what to do. I've never had friends call to ask if they could stay over. I ... I didn't know what to do," was all Collin could say before he had tears coming down his face. Collin was still struggling with his new 'life' and his new freedom to make decisions. All Ken did was to pull him into a light hug so as not to injure his ribs and try to reassure him that he would learn how to deal with things as time went on.
As they walked through the Kitchen to get to the Garage, Ken saw a large envelope sitting on the counter. He noticed it had the Courthouse address on it. It was then he remembered that the Judge was going to send over the transcript of Rodney's hearing. He made a mental note to read it with Andy, when they got back, but for now, he had two boys waiting on him.
Forty minutes later, three rambunctious boys loudly entered the Kitchen from the garage. As they made their way, Collin noticed the large envelop and stopped to look at it. He too then noticed where it originated and called its attention to Mr. Ken.
"Yes, Collin I noticed it before we left to get Ryan and Eric. I figured Andy and I would read it, together, when we got back."
"Do you think we all could read it ... together? We could do it tonight instead of swimming or watching a movie, even. Or, we could read it tomorrow when we are fresh and then Uncle Andy could help us understand anything we don't know about. What do you say, Mr. Ken?" asked Collin as Ryan and Eric looked on.
"I'll tell you what. You and your buddies go and do whatever you want. I know Eric there wants to go swimming. Andy and I will read it tonight and, then tomorrow, Andy can help you with it as you read it, then. This way I'll be aware of things and I can help you identify parts where you may want or need additional clarification," replied Ken.
Collin wasn't too sure if that's what he wanted to do. He had wanted them all to sit and read it at the same time but it did make sense to him for someone to know its content. He continued to think his reply as everyone stood there waiting for him to decide.
"Okay, Mr. Ken, that is probably a good idea and besides, I know these two want to do something more exciting than sitting around reading." Then looking at his two friends he asked them what they wanted to do and they both said in unison they wanted to swim.
Ken reminded them to go easy on Collin, because his ribs were still healing and the three ran off to change into their swim suits. In the meantime, Ken gathered up Andy, and they took the envelope to his Study, and began to read the short and simple transcript.
It was close to 11 PM when three boys came into the Study all dressed just in their boxers and T-shirts. Mr. Ken and Andy had finished reading the transcript and were just checking some notes they made, when the three boys came in.
"So, Collin, how'd you do? I mean with your ribs. Did you have any problems?" asked Andy.
"No, Uncle Andy, I basically sat around and watched those two. Ryan would pick Eric up and throw him and Eric would come back for more. Later, Ryan would dunk Eric and Eric would come back for more. Then they'd get into a splashing battle and Eric would lose and attack Ryan and he'd pick him up and throw him and then Eric would come back for more. All that time, that little squirt would be laughing his head off. I never saw a younger kid take so much and want more. It was fun watching them. All I did was sort of swim some but that kind of hurt. All I did, then, was float on my back and keep and eye on those two," is how Collin answered Mr. Ken's question.
"Yeah, it was fun," exclaimed Eric. "I hadn't had that much fun in a long time. That was even more fun than the day all us kids were here. Thanks, Ryan, for doing all those things with me." After saying that, Eric went over to Ryan and gave him a big hug.
"Sounds like you three had a nice time. So, I guess now you all are hungry? Is that why you are in here?" asked Ken.
"Well ... ahh ... kinda ... maybe," was uttered by Eric and the other two just rolled their eyes at him, but they were also laughing, too.
"Ok, so what do you want to eat? I am a good cook, as you all know, so I'll rustle up something real quick. Just tell me what it is that you want," asked Ken with a knowing big smile on his face.
"Well, we were hoping you'd take us out for breakfast," said Collin. "We don't want you to mess up Momma Maria's kitchen and get on her bad side! Especially after we already got her mad at us for not calling her about dinner."
"Yeah," chimed in Eric.
"Oh, Okay, I know when I am out numbered. You three get some 'real' clothes on and meet me at the front door in ten minutes," said Ken to the boys. He no sooner had it said than the three of them ran out of the Study and up the stairs.
"And NO Running," Ken yelled a bit too late.
Andy begged off from going along, saying he didn't need the extra calories at his age, and that he would see them all in the morning. With that he went on to bed.
It was well after 1 AM when the four got back from a trip to IHOP®, the International House of Pancakes. They were all stuffed, but the most important thing was they were all happy. Each of the boys gave Mr. Ken a hug and thanked him again for taking them out to eat, and then they all trudged up the stairs for bed. Ken set the alarm and went to his suite while Chief was last seen hurrying up the stairs after she had done her thing outside.
After trudging up to the bedroom, the three boys all agreed they were beat. Two hours of swimming and now a large late night breakfast made them just want to crash into a bed and go to sleep. But, before they could even do that, they needed to figure out who was sleeping were. Since, Collin had the injured rib cage it was a no-brainer that Ryan and Eric would share the other double sized bed. Collin did tell them all to go and drain their lizards before going to sleep and that brought a big giggle from the 10 + year old. They all then got down to their boxer shorts and T-shirts and before long they were all fast asleep.
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