The 'talk' all around the school the following morning was about how many people now had their Driver's Permit. Everyone who got their driver's permit, over the weekend, had to tell everyone else about their trip to get their license and of course the fact that they got behind the wheel for a few minutes with either their mom or dad. But when the teens heard that Collin and Ryan had not only been practicing, but also had some sort of practice course laid out over at the Cove every one of those teens had to personally talk to each of them and get the low down on what they did and how they did it. The new driver's all thought that was awesome that the two best friends had the coolest way to practice driving and some were sort of jealous. Then the First Bell rang.
By the time school ended that Monday, all the teachers were not very happy. They found it difficult trying to teach that day when so many of their students were so focused about driving that it was 'driving' them all crazy. At the end of the school day, the only thing the 'new' drivers could think of was getting home and going out to practice driving, some more. At the end of that same school day, all the teachers could think about was a nice hot bath or a straight shot of hard liquor.
After dinner that evening, Ken and Collin both went outside to do some more practice driving. Since Collin and Ryan had already tried some of what Ken had planned for that days' driving lesson, Ken had Collin practice different parking techniques. Of course, that was boring enough that, after the first 20 minutes, even Mr. Ken decided they needed to try something different.
"Collin, what say we go out that driveway," Mr. Ken said as he pointed to the main entrance to Three Finger Cove, "and drive around the neighborhood some?"
All Collin could do was sit there with his mouth wide open after hearing what his Big Bro had just asked.
"What do you say, young man? Do you think you're ready to go out there and drive around the community?"
"Bro, I think the question should be, 'Are YOU ready for ME to go out there and drive'? You're my instructor, well sort of, and if you think I'm ready, well then I'm willing to give it a try."
"Okay, that's fair, Collin. I think you have a good sense of the feel of the car and you seem comfortable behind the wheel. So, let's take it easy and drive around the surrounding streets some. I'll talk you through it and if a car is coming towards you, just pull to the side and let them pass. This driving lesson will give you a chance to be on neighborhood side streets with cars parked along the side and kids playing as well. You ready?"
"Well, I guess so, Bro. I do feel pretty good sitting behind the wheel and I haven't hit the cones or flags, so I think I could judge the width of the car and, as you said, I could always pull over and let cars pass. Yeah, I'm ready if you are?" said Collin.
With that said, the teen looked over to his mentor and Big Bro and getting a nod from him said, "Okay, buckle UP and hold on because here we go."
And with that, Collin put the gear level in "D" and put his foot on the gas pedal heavier than he had ever done before and the car immediately launched itself towards the main entrance gate. The quick take off got Mr. Ken's attention and no sooner had Collin gotten the car to the main gate than he quickly slammed on the brakes.
"A little anxious, are we, huh, Little Bro?" asked the smiling man.
"Ah, I'm sorry, Mr. Ken. I guess I got carried away with the idea and put my foot on the gas harder than I had intended. I'll be more careful. I hope you're not mad at me and will still let me drive around out here in the neighborhood," a contrite and somewhat scared teenager sat looking over at his passenger.
"Collin, I saw your face when you hit the gas and the car took off. It surprised you more than I think it did me. But that was probably a good lesson, don't you think? If you aren't in control of the vehicle, both physically and mentally, you can see how easily you can lose control and get into an accident. Now, remember it is a community, with the speed limit around 15 to 20 MPH, so there is no need to use a heavy foot. When we exit through the gate, how about you turn left and let's go from there."
Collin was still a bit frazzled from the quick take off of a few minutes before so he drove very slowly at first through the neighborhood. As he settled down, and felt more at ease behind the wheel, he began enjoying the fact that he was out there driving around. A few times he pulled to the side and stopped to let a car pass that was coming towards him even though there was enough room. Ken talked him through it the next few times and Collin was able to do it, albeit a bit slowly. A time or two Collin came upon some kids playing in the street and he deliberately drove the car at a crawl until he passed them and gave a sigh of relief once he had gotten past them.
Ken let the new driver practice his skills for about an hour and a half before he asked the teen to drive back home. Upon entering the compound, who do they see but Mary and Ryan sitting outside their vehicle and Ryan with a not too happy face.
"Where you been? We've been waiting here for you for hours! I thought we were gonna practice our driving?" the upset teenager got out before Collin or Ken could get out of the car.
"And it is nice to see you, too, Ryan," Ken quickly spoke up.
"Ryan did you see? Bro let me drive around the neighborhood. It was so kewl, but I was so scared at first. Wasn't I Bro?" Collin said excitedly.
"Well, I'm not so sure it was YOU who was so scared!" Mr. Ken said, teasingly and then hugged his young Bro.
"And, as for you, you little hot headed imp" said Mr. Ken as he then grabbed Ryan and put him into a head lock, "didn't you ever hear of cell phones and maybe calling us to ask where we were? I should take you over my knee and spank you for talking to me that way." And with that Ken began to put Ryan over his knee but because the teenager was laughing so much he couldn't hold him there and the lad fell on the ground.
"There that will teach you. Don't you ever mess with a guy who is bigger than you," Ken said laughing out loud as he looked on the sprawled laughing teen.
"And how do I know you ARE bigger than me?" teased back Ryan. "I've never seen…" and then he suddenly realized that his mom was standing there, so he never finished what he was going to say.
It got awfully quiet when Ryan stopped in the middle of what he was going to say. No one knew how Mary was going to react to the 'locker room talk' that most boys say to one another.
The next thing the guys know is Mary is standing there with her hands on her hips as she looked down at her son, who was still on the ground next to Mr. Ken. Then, all of a sudden, she began laughing and opened her arms to her son who immediately got up and hugged his mom as she hugged him back.
"So, this is how my teenaged son acts when he isn't around his mother. Where is the soap when a mother needs it?" and Mary hugged her son some more.
"Sorry, Mom, I got carried away there," Ryan offered sheepishly.
"I know, Son. I guess you call it 'gym talk' or 'locker-room talk'. All I know is it has something to do with all the testosterone that is all around here right now."
As soon as Mary said that, all four of them began laughing. Mary knew that her son was growing up and that was the way the 'guys' talked to one another. She really didn't care if he had ever seen IF Mr. Ken was 'bigger' than him. All she ever cared about was that Ryan had a very good role model and adult friend he could always count on when he needed to go to someone for whatever reason.
When the laughing died down, the boys talked about Collin's driving excursion and before long they began setting up the traffic cones and flags so they could practice some more driving, before it got way too dark.
"Ken, thank you so very much for the way you treat Ryan," began Mary Taylor. "I know I've said this a time or two, but you have been the best thing that boy has ever had, well, maybe with the exception being with Collin, there. The whole time you've treated him as if he really was your 'little brother'. You never put him down. You always encourage him. You made him feel a part of something and gave him the means to feel good about himself and to focus on a larger goal. When you entered our lives, I had some major reservations, but looking back, you were exactly what my boy needed. A man in his life!
"I'll never be able to thank you enough for what you've given him … and even me, for that matter. When I see him interact with you, I get goose bumps, sometimes. A few times, I even got tears in my eyes because I am so happy he has someone he trusts and admires and has as close a relationship as any boy could have with a dad. These last few months, I've seen how much he has grown and matured and I thank my lucky stars you are in his life."
When Mary stopped talking, she looked up to Mr. Ken and then hugged him for a long time and then finally kissed him on his cheek. When she was finished, Ken saw she was about ready to cry, so he hugged her to him just as she broke down and cried.
Those were 'Happy' tears she was shedding.
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