Castle Roland

Chapter 76

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Upon returning from dinner, Mary decided she wanted to get some 'beauty sleep' so she thanked Ken for the wonderful dinner and friendship and then excused herself and went home. Ryan, of course, was spending the night, so the two best friends headed down to the Theater to watch a movie. Ken decided to do some work in his Study as he still needed to learn a lot more about Wilkinson Enterprises, soon to be C.W.E. Inc. As for Chief, she started out in the Study, with her first master, but since he was so busy, he didn't even know she was there so she headed down to the Theater to be with 'her' boy.

The next morning, the two teenagers woke up early, for a Sunday, and they quickly went to take their showers. They also managed to take care of some other morning business while in the shower, of course, with a little help from one another.

The boys dressed and headed down to the kitchen only to find that this was Momma Maria's Sunday off. Even Mr. Ken arrived, in the kitchen, forgetting that Maria was off that day. He now had to decide to either cook breakfast, for the three of them, or go out. After some lighthearted arguing, about the quality of his cooking, the boys convinced Mr. Ken to take them all out to Denny's® or IHOP®. On the way to the car, Collin tried again to see if he could drive, but Ken told him he needed a lot more time behind the wheel first and that was the end of the discussion.

Two hours later, when the man and boys returned to the Cove, Ken told Collin to get the keys to the practice vehicle. This time, with Ryan sitting in the back seat, Ken had Collin drive through a different training course he set up when Collin went for the keys. Again, Mr. Ken had the boy drive forward through the cones and flags and then had him enter the parking space differently to practice backing out instead of in, as he did yesterday. After an hour, Ken had the boy's trade seats and now he had Ryan run through the same courses as his best friend.

After an hour of Ryan practicing the slalom course and backing up and parking, Mr. Ken set up one last course for the boys to practice on. This time he had the boy's help him set the cones and flags to almost twice the width of the car apart and in a straight line. Then he got behind the wheel and showed them what he wanted them to practice.

The two teens looked at him with sheer horror when he began to backup and they saw he was only using the side view mirrors. He did it twice and explained each time what he was doing. Then, he asked Collin to get into the driver's seat to try the same thing. But before the boy got out of the car he, and Ryan both, said they would never have to ever do that, so they argued there was no reason to practice it. Mr. Ken just laughed at the two knowing that backing up was the hardest thing for both of them to do.

Mr. Ken explained that one day they might find themselves with a backseat full of boxes and stuff and if they couldn't see over their shoulder they would need to know how to use the side view mirrors in order to back up. The boys were a hard sell at first, but when they got out of the car and saw how wide the practice area was, they relented. Collin got into the driver's seat, first.

Collin's first attempt was funny from Ken's point of view. Even though the car was centered in the new course, Collin managed to back into the second cone and flag. He cursed loud and long about hitting the pylon and drove forward to start all over. The second time he hit another pylon further down the course and cursed even louder only to hear both Mr. Ken and Ryan laughing at him. Collin, stopping the car, turned off the motor and stormed out saying to Ryan, "If you think it is so easy then you try it and let's see how good YOU are!"

The gauntlet had been thrown; Ryan got out of the car and got behind the wheel. He put on his seatbelt, started the motor, put it in gear and then drove to the beginning of the backup course. Ryan then put the shift lever into "R" and began backing the vehicle up. He hadn't gone any further than Collin did on his first try when he quickly braked before he hit the pylon. Collin, who was still outside watching, laughed loud enough for Ryan to hear. Ryan reset the car and tried again and he got a bit further than Collin did on his second try. But again, he over steered and went towards a pylon and over corrected and got the car almost in a 90 degree angle to the course. Now, Mr. Ken began to laugh and he was still inside the vehicle with Ryan.

Collin came over to the car while Ryan got out and slammed the car door. He was so pissed at himself that he didn't say a word. He just walked away from his best friend with his head down. Mr. Ken then got out of the car and handed the keys to Collin and told him to try it again and this time to concentrate. While Collin got into the car, Ken went over to Ryan and put his arm around the boys shoulder and tried to comfort him.

Collin reset the car, at the beginning of the course, and this time he made it all the way through to the end. He tried it again and did it much better the second time through. On his third try, he hardly turned the wheel and when he got to the end he turned off the motor and got out and ran to his mentor and gave him a big hug.

"Bro," yelled Collin, "I did it! I got all the way through. I don't know what I did but I did it. Did you see?" The youngster was so excited at his accomplishment that he had forgotten his best friend was standing right next to their Big Bro.

"Oh, sorry Ryan for over reacting like that but it felt so good to be able to do it. I just hope I can do it again and again," said Collin.

Ken saw there was the potential for some hurt feelings so he took the keys from Collin and gave them to Ryan and told him to do the same thing. Ryan took the keys with a determined look in his eyes and got into the car. He drove it to the top of the course, placed the gear lever in "R" and began his first try. It wasn't pretty but he got to the end without hitting any of the cones. He tried again and that time he drove steady and more confident. On his third try, he did the course just as well as his best friend had and when he turned off the motor and got out of the car his face was all smiles.

Ryan slowly walked up to Mr. Ken, and Collin, smiling all the way and when he put the keys into his Big Bro's hand he gave him a big hug as well.

"Thanks Bro for making me do that. I didn't want to at first but … well … I had to show mister big shot here that he wasn't the only one who could learn to do that, either." Then Ryan laughed and so did his best friend. Even Chief got into the act and gave a few 'happy' barks like she does.

"Boys," began Mr. Ken, "you've only had two opportunities to practice driving, and I have to say you both have done well. But that doesn't mean you are ready for the main roads yet. As for Collin, he and I will practice here in the driveway a lot more before I let him go out into traffic. Ryan, you'll have to ask your mom what she has planned for your driving practice, but if you want to come over here you are more than welcomed. Do you two want to practice some more or are you ready for a snack?"

The two boys looked at one another and then at their Big Bro and then at the car. Mr. Ken had no idea what was going on in their minds but when Collin reached for the keys he knew what their answer was.

"Ok, but you cannot be in the car together. One of you has to stay outside and watch," Mr. Ken told the boys.

"But, Bro…" the two boys chimed.

"But, Bro, nothing! I do not want you two in the vehicle at the same time. You are not ready to have that amount of distraction while you drive. You hear me, you two?"

"Yeah, we hear you," said Collin.

Two hours passed and Ken could see from his Study the boys traded off every half hour or so. They reset the traffic cones and flags for them to practice more parallel parking and turning around in a confined space. Ken was pleased they took the initiative because that was what he had planned for Collin for his next lesson.

A few minutes later, Mr. Ken noticed the boys had the hood up on the car. He watched them look under the hood and reach in a few times and then close it and one of them got back behind the wheel. The car didn't move and the hood came back up. Ken figured he'd better get his coat on so he went to the hall closet, and by then, Collin had come running in saying the car won't start.

As the two walked back to the vehicle, Collin told Mr. Ken everything that happened, including their attempts to look under the hood, and to try to get it started. The car's hood was still opened when they got there and Ryan told the same story. The boys then became comical as they tried to explain they didn't do anything wrong to the car and that they tried everything to get it started. Their Big Bro just stood there listening and silently laughing on the inside at the two slightly scared teens thinking that they had somehow screwed up the car.

When the boys finally calmed down enough to catch their breath, Mr. Ken asked them if they had checked the gas gauge. The two lads stood there dumbfounded and then looked at one another and within in a few seconds they then began to laugh, too. They realized that was the ONLY thing they hadn't checked and when their Bro mentioned that, it was as if they were hit upside their head with a new found wisdom and they laughed even harder.

It was now late afternoon and Mary had come over to get Ryan and seeing the three next to the car with the hood up drove down to where they were. When she got out, she could hear them all laughing and thought they were laughing because they broke something or did something to the car. As soon as she got close to the car, Ryan tried to tell her what happened but Collin also wanted to tell her so they were talking all over each other and when they heard what they were dong they began to laugh even more.

Finally, Mr. Ken told Mary about the boys' antics opening the hood and checking to see why the car wouldn't start, only to find out they had run it out of gas. As soon as the boys heard their Big Bro's explanation, they began laughing some more and by that time their ribs were hurting.

"Boys, let this be its own lesson. Always check the gas gauge," chided Mr. Ken. "Okay, let's get the 5 gallon gas can out of the storage shed and fill this thing up and get it started and we'll all go out to get it filled and then on for some early dinner. What do you all say to that?"

Hearing no complaints, they all started up to the garage parking corral, with the boys running ahead. Collin got there first and opened the lock to the shed door while Ryan went in first and grabbed the gas can. The boys quickly went back to the stalled car and added the gas. In no time, the engine started and soon the four were off to get it filled and then some dinner.

Later that evening, Ken and Collin were sitting in the Study talking about everything that happened that week. Collin asked what impact the decisions the School Board and Hospital Board made would have on anything. Ken didn't have a definitive answer for the teenager, but only that they had to watch and listen and not to let anything go past them that didn't seem right or didn't pass the 'giggle' test.

Ken warned Collin that he may have upset a couple of hornets' nests and, with everything that had happened over the past few months, Collin needed to stick with his friends and be aware of his surroundings at all times, just in case. Then he told Collin of something he was thinking of having one of C.W.E Inc's factories try to build. It was a tracking device that could track the person wherever they were.

Collin argued that there was already something like that and that his cell phone could already do that. But, then, Mr. Ken told him it was going to be small enough that it would be implanted inside the person's body and still be strong enough that a passing satellite could find them. Collin's eyes went wide opened at that thought. He knew that would take time and money to build but he could begin to see the advantages of something like that. Little kids would no longer be abducted. Mountain climbers and hikers would no longer go lost and then, if the military got involved, it would add whole new application opportunities.

Collin yawned and then thanked his Big Bro for everything he had done for him but especially the driving lessons. The lad got up and went over to his savior, and mentor, and gave him a great big hug and thanked him again for everything. Ken held onto the boy for a few extra moments to let Collin know how much he loved the boy and that he was very happy the teen had a 'new' life.

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