Jayden almost went into shock when he saw his dad sitting there. He didn't know what to say. His mouth dropped open and tears began to leak from his eyes. His dad watched his son for a few moments and then held his arms open for the boy. Jayden saw the arms open and the great big smile on his dad's face and he immediately ran for his dad's embrace.
As Jayden was experiencing a 'heart stopping moment' in his life, Collin was telling everyone what was up with Jayden having to go to Mr. Ken's Study.
Todd got extremely scared for himself, and for his best friend, when he heard what was happening. He began to cry and Danny saw that and went to him to try to calm him down. The rest of Todd's friends knew more about the story and were a bit shaken, too.
"Todd, don't be afraid," a soothing voice said to the boy. "Things like this happen and when they do, all you can do is roll with it."
"But he's my Best Friend! I don't want to lose that. His dad has … has some strange ideas about this place and Mr. Ken and …and I am afraid for Jay, right now. I've never seen his dad hit him nor has Jay ever told me his dad, or mom, has ever hit him, but I … I'm still afraid," cried Todd.
As Danny hugged the pre-teen, the rest of his friends all came forward to try to console him. As all the boys now began to gather near the crying boy, the pool room door opened and everyone looked to see who it was. At that moment, Mr. Ken then Jayden and then Jayden's dad walked through the opening and some gasps were heard from some of the boys.
"Guys, I want you to meet my dad, Jesse Lissmann," Jayden said eagerly. "He came by to talk to Mr. Ken, and to see if I was having fun."
Todd was shocked to say the least. Even some of the other boys couldn't believe what they were now seeing, knowing what they knew about Mr. Lissmann, and his ideas about Three Finger Cove.
"Howdy, guys, Mr. Ken here showed me around the upstairs already, and he wanted me to see down here, too. Ken, this is an awesome indoor pool. I can understand why your little brothers would want their friends to enjoy it during the coldest time of year. How about it boys, did you all have a real good time? My son said today was the best he's had in a very long time. I am now very sorry I didn't let him come to the Christmas Party.
"I hear Collin wants to show a movie in the Theater, and some of you need to call your parents, to see if you can stay longer. Jayden here can stay if he wants to, and if there is an invitation for you to spend the night, he can stay for that, too. It will give me and the misses a chance to … ah I better not say what I was ah … was going to say about a little brother or sister. I don't want to embarrass my son, here," pronounced Mr. Lissmann, as he hugged his son to him, with a big smile.
"Da aaadd" cried Jayden while he smiled immensely from the loving hug his dad was just then giving him.
The two men left the boys in the pool area, so Mr. Ken could show Jesse the rest of the downstairs. In the pool room, the boys all had tons of questions for Jayden, but Todd was the one Jayden went to first.
"Jay … what happened? Your dad, he's … he's different! When Collin came back and told us your dad was up there, I got scared," uttered Todd through his tears.
"Todd … everybody … when I walked in the room, and saw my dad sitting there, I almost had a heart attack, I was so scared. He looked at me and tears came running down my face. Then he held out his arms for me and I ran to him. It was awesome! … He apologized for being an idiot, yes he did say idiot, and asked me to forgive him for acting the way he did towards Mr. Ken.
"He told me he'd been up there talking to our host for almost an hour and they got to know one another. He hopes to be able to call Mr. Ken his friend. I don't know what they talked about, but I am sure happy about the way my dad is now acting," recounted the very happy Jayden.
"Hey, we still need to call our parents," someone yelled. Then someone else asked, "Did he mean it … we … we could have a sleepover?"
Collin, in thinking about that question, thought to himself that he never asked about a sleepover when he went upstairs to ask about the movie. He figured that Mr. Ken told Mr. Lissmann that he would eventually, so Jay's dad 'spilled the beans' by announcing it.
"Yes, I guess that means we can have a huge sleepover. Guys, this will be a weekend for all of you to remember. Make your calls!" announced Collin.
Mid-sized hands quickly reached for cell phones and fingers were seen to hit either the speed dial number or the full phone number for the boy's parents. In the end, twenty-one boys were allowed to spend the night, while all the boys could stay for the movie. The ones who couldn't stay had to go to church tomorrow, and their parents were making them come home, because they didn't have their 'Sunday Clothes' there.
The four not staying were Vince and Nicholas, two of Collin's and Ryan's friends, and one each of Alex's and Eric's friends, William and Joshua. Collin went upstairs to tell Momma Maria she would have 21 kids for breakfast in the morning. She sat down quickly, and held her hands to her head as she heard what the teenager just told her and then fully understood what that meant.
As Collin left the somewhat stunned cook sitting there in a daze, he called out to her, "We'll all help you. Don't you worry!" It was his 'help' she was gonna worry about.
Ryan and Damon got out the red wagon popcorn maker and started making a batch. Collin reminded the boys where the Theater was and told them to find a good seat and get comfortable. He did tell them to stay out of one particular seat as it was Mr. Ken's and he might decide to come down and watch with them for a while.
Jesse finished up his tour just as the boys gathered close by to get some of the first batch of popcorn. The smell of fresh popped popcorn was so enticing that Mr. Ken and Jesse both stopped to get a handful as well.
"Jesse, would you like to stay and help chaperone?" asked Mr. Ken.
"If the popcorn is this good, maybe I should," replied Jesse. "It's not often you get popcorn this fresh."
Then the man spied his son and called him over. "Son, I wouldn't do that to you, you know, stay and ruin your sleepover. The only time you get to camp out with this many lads is when the scout troop heads out. Maybe you could recruit a few more members for the troop, while you're here?" The man then ruffled his son's still damp hair and said, "Nah, you should just have fun tonight and enjoy this wonderful setting."
"Boys" called Mr. Ken, "The older teens are the chaperones tonight. I'll be here, but I'll either be in my Study or later in my bedroom. If you have any questions or problems go to them first. Does anyone have any concerns before I turn you over to Collin and the others?"
"Mr. Ken, what if someone ah … ah, you know … he kinda … wets their bed? Not on purpose but, you know," asked Eric.
"Well, I don't think you have a problem there, Eric, my boy. You've stayed here a few times and never had a problem. And on our trip to California last weekend you didn't wet the bed, so why are you asking that now?"
"Well, Mr. Ken," began Eric, "I know I don't have a problem, but what if one of the new boys here is afraid to ask? This is a new place for them and it could happen, you know. I just thought I'd ask in case they didn't want to be made fun of."
"That is good thinking, Eric, and it shows how much you care about people, and in particular, your friends. Okay, guys this place is big and if you wake up and need to go to the bathroom, you can use the single bathroom at the end of the hall, on the right, or you can come out here and use these industrial sized restrooms, located sort of under the stairs, that we use for parties.
"If by chance you do have an accident, just find Collin or call out for 'Chief'. She'll hear and come to you. Tell her you need to find Collin or Ryan or Eric even. She may not understand your words but she can sense your mood or fears and she'll get one of them. Okay, any other questions? Alright, boys, have fun tonight." His directions over, Mr. Ken and Jesse walked up the spiral stairs to the Foyer.
The movie ended about 10:45 and Eric suggested they all go swimming again. Never having had the opportunity to swim indoors before that day, let alone at night, the whole lot proceeded to the dryer to get their suits. They all rushed to the changing rooms and, without even considering they were a mixed group of older teens and younger pre-teens, they got naked without a fuss. Soon twenty lads were again swimming in the warm waters of the indoor in-ground pool. Collin was the only one not swimming, just yet. He went up to the Study to talk to Mr. Ken.
"Bro, can I ask about Mr. Lissmann?" asked Collin straight out.
"What do you want to know, Collin?" replied Mr. Ken.
"Well, one of the first things Jayden said when he got here today was that he told his parents he was going to Todd's and hoped he wouldn't get us into trouble, meaning me and you. He was real scared if his dad found out he was here. And when I told the others after he came up here that his dad was here, Todd got real afraid for his buddy, Jayden. I'm just curious what happened, that's all," said Collin.
"Collin, at first, I think Mr. Lissmann came here all pissed off and was going to cause a scene. We talked some in the Foyer, and he mentioned his son at a party here. I told him my 'little brothers' had some of their friends over for a swim party and BBQ. It was then he began to apologize for what he was thinking. We came into the Study and he began to explain why he came here looking for his son, and then why he then had to apologize. We got to talking about lots of things and the more he got to know me, and about Three Finger Cove, the more relaxed he became. I n the end, you saw how he was acting. I just hope he remains that way."
"Can I ask why he said he needed to apologize, Bro?" inquired Collin.
"He said he was told some things, right after the shootout, and he believed the people who told him. He said he had no reason not to believe what he was told, and so he had some preconceived notions. I hope our talk cleared up those perceptions and he does become a friend for you and me."
"Oh, by the way, Eric suggested swimming after the movie was over, so that is where we are, in case you come downstairs looking for us," informed the almost sixteen year old youth.
"Hmmmm, and what do you plan on feeding your hungry army of boys when they are done?" asked the slightly older man, while chuckling at the same time.
"Dang, I never thought of that. Y eah, they will be hungry. Maybe you can drive us to IHOP?" asked Collin hopefully, but also with a knowing smile that it wasn't going to happen.
"Think again!" was all Mr. Ken said.
Two hours later, the boys were tired and now hungry and asked if there was anything they could snack on before bed. Eric took charge and told everyone to go change but to just get in their boxers or briefs and t-shirts to be comfortable for when they go to bed. He reminded them there were no girls around and we've all seen your equipment. By that time, some of the boys had taken their trunks off as they walked to the changing rooms and threw their wet suits at Eric. Most of then hit their mark. Everyone had a good laugh including Eric.
The gaggle of lads, all dressed in boxers or briefs and t-shirts, followed Collin and Ryan up to the kitchen for a mid-night snack, at 1 AM. The teens rounded up some hot chocolate and sweet cakes that Momma Maria keeps around. By 1:30 AM, the group descended downstairs and stopped at the restroom before going to the Theater to get some much needed sleep.
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