HOSPITAL BOARD REVERSES ITSELF
That headline topped the newspaper's first edition that hit the streets for the vendors to sell. The home delivery subscribers, who get a much earlier printer newspaper, saw the headline:
HOSPITAL DIRECTORS SEEN AS INCOMPETENT
That was the headline that topped the home edition of the newspaper that Ken Thomas read as he drank his first cup of morning coffee following the longest hospital board meeting on record. Before long, a very sleepy Collin joined the man for breakfast before he headed off to school.
"Morning Bro," a sleepy Collin said to his guardian, Ken Thomas.
"Morning Uncle Andy," Collin said to his unofficial uncle.
"Morning there Collin, I hope you got enough sleep," answered Mr. Ken.
"Yeah, I think I did. Bro … ah, I saw Bill … ah, I mean Mr. Jackson, last night talking to who I think was their lawyer … you know the Board's lawyer … after they read their first ruling or verdict or whatever it was. Then, I saw that man walk over to the President and the two of them talked and before long they all went back into their secret room. Do you know what that was all about? Did Mr. Jackson tell you what he said that made them change their minds?" asked Collin.
"Collin, I asked him, but he said it would be best if I didn't know. And, I think he is right. I don't want to know," replied Ken.
"But aren't you curious as to what happened, even a little bit? Don't you want to know how he got them to change their decision? I mean … it was like … like night and day between what they originally said and … and then what they came back with almost an hour later. I know I sure am!"
"Collin, sometimes it is best NOT to know something. That way you never have to worry about revealing it so that one day, in the future, it won't make life very difficult for that person who told or maybe even yourself who knew. Lawyers are paid for what they know and how they can affect outcomes and Bill Jackson is one of the best if NOT the best out there. That is why I hired him a long time ago. He got the results I wanted and that is all I care for right now.
"That nurse will now have a very difficult time finding work because of the way she acted that day you were injured. As for that hospital administrator, we are not finished with him, yet. Sure, he will have a reprimand in his personal file but he was hired by his uncle, one of the Directors, mind you, to run that place so there is something more going on there. Anyway, I hope you don't fall asleep in school today," joked Ken and he tussled Collin's hair as the boy grabbed some toast and headed out to catch the school bus.
At school, Collin was again the center of attention because of the Hospital Director's abrupt change in their decision. Everyone wanted to know how he, meaning Collin was able to get them to reverse their decision. All Collin could tell them was that was what lawyers get paid the big bucks for and that Bill Jackson had surely earned his pay last night. The kids all laughed at that and to them it made sense as they all know that it is the lawyers who run things just about everywhere, except at their school.
"Hey Collin," yelled Conner as he saw his friend in the hallway. "Boy you sure have been busy lately. What's that now, like two major Board meetings in two days? Before you know it you'll be in charge of a couple of them one day," and Conner laughed, at his feeble attempt at a joke.
"Yeah, but those aren't the boards I will be running," replied Collin.
"Yeah, that's what I was saying," laughed Conner.
"Anyways, I hear you're going to get your driver's license soon. Boy, I can't wait until my parents will start letting me drive. I've been bugging them ever since I was 15 to let me get my permit and they still won't let me get one."
"Maybe that is why they won't let you get it because you keep bugging them for it," said Collin at his friend. "Mr. Ken didn't even ask me. He just went and planned for it to happen. I had totally forgotten all about it."
"Yeah, you know, you are probably right. I may have gone a little over board about my license,' answered Conner.
"I bet 'a little bit overboard' is an understatement there Conner. I've heard you go on and on about things you want and I bet they just got tired of hearing about it. I'll bet that if you just shut up about it that within a month they will come to you and ask you if you think you're ready," a smiling Collin said to his buddy.
"Yeah … YEAH, I bet you are right. I bet they just want me to shut up about it. … Yeah, that's what I'll do. I won't say a thing about it and let them come to me." When Conner finished speaking he just stood there with his eyes looking up as though he was not there.
Collin stared at his friend and then finally he spoke up and asked, "Conner, have you seen Ryan?"
"Oh … ah … ah yea I think I saw him going towards the office. He didn't look happy. Not sure what was up. … Hey, we better get a move on the bell is about to ring. I'll catch you later." With that the two boys began hurrying to their next class.
After school, Collin waited for Ryan at the bus loading area but he never saw him so he had to get on, or it would leave without him. All the way home Collin wondered why Ryan had avoided him all day long. He hadn't even seen him at lunch and there is where the four of them always gathered to catch up on stuff. Both Conner and Danny had no idea where Ryan was as they hadn't heard from him, either. Collin was concerned about his Best Friend as this was not like Ryan.
Collin opened the front door to his home at Three Finger Cove and Chief came running and barking at him. She jumped up on him and almost bowled him over from her momentum. She licked his face as he ruffled her coat and scratched her back and the two just enjoyed each other's company. Collin still had Ryan in his mind so he headed to the Study to see if Mr. Ken knew anything about him.
"Bro," Collin said as he entered the Study, "I'm a bit concerned about Ryan. No one really saw him today at school. And he didn't even call me last night, as he usually dose. Do you know if anything has happened to him?"
"No, Collin, I haven't heard anything. And last night we got home so late that I bet he left you a message since you had your cell phone turned off at the meeting. Why don't you go get your snack and check your messages," replied Mr. Ken. And as Collin began to walk out of the Study Ken called out, "And don't ruin your dinner. Oh, and Uncle Andy said to tell you take care of yourself and he'll see you again soon."
"Wha … oh … yeah, I forgot he was going home today. Damn, with everything going on the past few days I totally forgot he was going home. And I didn't even tell him good bye this morning or give him a big hug for everything he's done for me. I need to call him later and thank him. Thanks Bro for reminding me. I'm gonna go up to my room and get started on my homework and see if I can find out what's up with Ryan."
Collin headed up to his room to change and check if he has any messages from Ryan before he began working on his homework. He sat down on his bed and reviewed his cell phone call history and saw that Ryan had called last night so he listened to the message and it was just a simple Hi and I'll see you at school type message and that was all.
Collin's mind began to work overtime though. He heard Ryan's voice and it sounded to him like there was nothing wrong but then he asked himself why then hadn't he even showed up to eat lunch with the guys? Collin then hit his speed dial number for Ryan's home and listened to the phone ring and ring and then the recording kick in so he hung up. Then Collin tried Ryan's cell phone and basically got the same response. The cell phone rang and then automatically transferred the call to the Voice Message area. "Ryan, when you get this message call me. It doesn't matter what time it is but please call me!" was all Collin said into the phone before closing it up.
At dinner, Collin sat and picked at his food. Ken saw that and asked what was wrong and all Collin could tell him was that he hadn't heard from Ryan since Monday, after the school board meeting. He told Mr. Ken about the message and that all he got was the answering machines at his home and cell phones. Collin asked to be excused and just got up and walked out of the room. He retrieved his coat and he and Chief went outside and walked down by the beach. Collin felt lost and he was hurting inside. He never had a best friend before and now he felt as if he had been abandoned by that friend. He took out his cell phone again and tried to call but again there was no answer at home or the cell phone. Collin began to cry.
Ken had heard the teen leave the house and saw that he and Chief had walked towards the beach and the small marina. He watched them from the shadows and wondered to himself what was happening as well. He knew those two boys had practically been attached at the hip ever since they met and this was unlike them to be separated for any length of time. As he watched, he saw Collin get out his cell phone and he figured he was trying to call his best friend again. Ten seconds later he knew there was no contact as the lad closed up the phone and put it in his pocket. Then he saw his 'little Bro' lean over and put his face into his hands.
Time ticked by. It was already getting dark when Collin and Chief headed over to the dock and now the night had descended over the lake. Collin was still lost in thought and after crying for a time he dried his eyes and turned to look out over the very calm evening lake.
Collin was so lost in thought he never heard the person walk up to him and reached out and touched his shoulder. T he sudden and unexpected touch startled the young teen. When he looked up he saw who it was and he jumped right up and pulled the person into the biggest hug ever. Now his tears were tears of joy as his best friend had come down to the water’s edge and found him.
"I hear you've been looking for me," asked Ryan.
"Whatever gave you that idea," replied a very happy Collin.
"Oh, let's see … maybe the dozen or so phone messages I had waiting for me; that's all," a smiling Ryan teased his best friend.
"I only called and left 3 or 4 messages, honest," spoke up Collin.
"Yea, it was Danny and Conner and everyone else calling trying to find out where I was and everything."
The two boys had separated as they talked and now they had snuggled up together against the cold coming off the water. They just stood there and hugged one another while Chief sat and looked up at them. From the house Ken and Mary also watched the boys.
"So … are you gonna tell me where you were? And why didn't you come and eat lunch with us today? … I was scared Ryan. I thought you … you didn't want to see me again for some reason." Then Collin began to cry as he hugged Ryan even tighter.
The two teens stayed that way for a few minutes and then Ryan said, "We better get up to the house. When you started to cry and didn't stop right away, Chief left us and headed for the house. Right about now our Bro and our 'mom' are getting their coats on and are gonna come down here any moment."
As they separated and turned to walk back up towards the house, sure enough, they saw two figures and a dog approaching from the sandy beach. Knowing who it was they just stood there and waited for the three figures to walk the rest of the way to the dock. Collin tried to wipe his eyes the best he could and he figured he could always blame the cold wind for his 'watery' eyes right then.
"Well, well … look who we have here. Two peas in a pod don't you think Mary," teased Ken as he and Mary and Chief walked onto the boat dock.
"Wrapped up the way there were I could have sworn that's what they were for sure, Mr. Ken," replied Mary.
The two adults laughed as they walked up to the boys and each took their own into their arms and hugged into them to get warm. Chief, for her part, just sat there watching the two couples with her tail wagging as fast as she could. She instinctively knew she had done her part by getting her master to come fix whatever was wrong with her 'boy', Collin. And now seeing that Collin wasn't crying any more made her real happy.
"So, did you tell your best friend what happened?" asked 'mom' Taylor.
"Ah … no mom I didn't get the chance," answered Ryan.
"Well, you've been down here long enough," teased Mary.
"Moommm," whined Ryan.
"Dang it is getting cold down here," offered Ken. "What say we either get onto the Commander or head up to the house and get some hot chocolate?"
"Yeah," both boys chimed in, "hot chocolate sounds good right now."
They all hurried back up the slight incline to the house and enjoyed the warmth of the inside as they took off their coats and headed up the stairs to the kitchen to make some hot chocolate. The boys joked and tussled at one another as they ran up the stairs only hearing the words "No Running" as they got to the last step. They looked back at their Bro and 'mom' and laughed at them as they slowly made their way up to the main living level.
By the time Ken and Mary entered the kitchen the boys had four cups of streaming hot water and hot chocolate packets and mini marshmallows at the ready. The four then sat down in the dimly lit kitchen nook to look out over the lake while they enjoyed their warm drinks. Occasionally, an unspoken word passed between the boys, when they glanced at one another, but for the most part everyone was alone right then with their own inward thoughts.
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