"Morning Cam, Michelle, boys," said Ken, as he approached their table. "Getting ready for a big tour today?"
"Naw," said a disappointed sounding Jerry. "Our parents have been here so many times before, they don't do that anymore. Colt and I will just use the pools. Or, maybe play on the video games. It'll be okay, as everything won't be too crowded, with most people gone."
Collin and Mr. Ken excused themselves and went to get their plates and something to eat. Along the way, Collin asked Mr. Ken if there was room for Jerry and Colt to join them. Collin didn't want to ask his Bro, in front of them, only to find there was no space available. Getting the answer he wanted, the two rejoined their new friends.
"Cam, if you've been here so often, why don't you do something different for Spring Break?" asked Mr. Ken.
"We did think about doing something different this year, but the boys love Castaway Cay, so we voted and here we are. Unfortunately, we waited too long to make reservations. There is one cruise that visits the Cay twice, and you can have lots of fun there such as snorkeling, boating, swimming and old-fashioned sunbathing, but they do frown on nude sunbathing. But, I don't exactly know why?" teased Cam, and getting some great big smiles from the young boys.
"Anyway, the four of us always have a good time together when we visit it. It's too bad they don't have overnight stays, because we'd go there for the full cruise, wouldn't we boys?" the middle aged man answered.
"So, boys, have you toured the island as often as your parents," asked Collin.
This time Colt replied saying, "Jerry was too young the first few times, so I don't think he remembers all that much. As for me, they always showed us the same stuff, so I decided not to go anymore"
"Boys, have you ever done any of your island tours by helicopter?" asked Mr. Ken.
"No," both boys answered simultaneously.
"Would you like to go with us, today?" asked Mr. Ken. "That is, if your parents think it would be safe and allow you to accompany us!"
"Boy would we ever," both youngsters excitedly replied as one. "Can we, Mom? Can we, Dad?" two overly enthused lads almost begged.
"Well, are you sure there is enough room?" first asked Michelle.
"Are you sure they won't be a bother?" followed up Cam.
"Yes, there is enough room for four in the helicopter. I initially thought that maybe Ryan and Eric would be with us, when I first made the arrangements, but when I asked about their going, their moms had already made arrangements for this time frame. And, as for them being a bother, I don't believe they would be. They are two very well behaved and gentlemen like young men, and I know Collin would love for them to go with us. So, would you two like to have a full day for yourselves? It'll give you time to relax and have the cabin quiet and all alone? Huh, so what do you say?" spoke Mr. Ken.
"Please, please Mom, Dad, please let us go with them," begged Jerry.
"Yeah, Mom, Dad, please let us go. This would be an awesome trip if we got to view the island from the air," added Colt.
Cam and Michelle looked at one another and using that unmistakable language parents create in order to talk in front of their kids without them knowing what they said agreed to allow the boys to accompany them in their helicopter sightseeing trip.
Getting last minute instructions from Mom and Dad, the four intrepid men set off to find their tour guide at the end of the pier the Disney Magic tied up to. They all then jumped into a jeep and made their way to the heliport about twenty-five minutes away.
"Bro?" said Collin in a voice that meant the lad had a question.
"Yes, Collin, what is it?" replied Mr. Ken.
"Well … it's kinda hard to say … but … but, the last few days … have you ever felt like … that you were being watched?" Collin finally got out.
"Ah, yes, Collin … I have felt that a few times, in my life, but … I never could pin point that someone actually was following me. Why do you ask?" a concerned Mr. Ken asked.
"I don't know … it's … it's that a few times, I'd … like make myself turn to see if someone was there … well, because I felt like I was being followed," responded Collin.
"You were!" said Jerry. … "At least I think you were."
"What? How do you know that, Jerry?" quickly asked Collin. "Were you the one following me the last few days?" demanded Collin.
"No, no, nothing like that, Collin. But last night … you know after you went to change, I … I did kinda notice this guy looking at you … you know, like as if he was watching you specifically, as you left. I … I didn't take any more notice about it, until you came back to where we all were. It was then that I saw the same guy come up the same way you did. It was like he followed you there. Also, he stopped and turned as if to look at something, exactly when you stopped to talk to us.
"I don't know why I noticed him … there was just something that pulled my attention to him. Then … when you walked away from us, I saw him and another man quickly follow behind you. And today, I saw him and the other guy again … when they came into the restaurant, right after you guys did, this morning and look over at us."
"Were any of them from the three couples? You know … from the other night" asked Colt.
"Yea, … yeah, that was them," eagerly agreed Jerry.
"I remember them … from that first night. The lady who came over to ask if they could help, when we were crying; she was with them," added Colt.
"Yeah, and the guy, who I thought was following you, also looked over to us when they were being seated," said Jerry.
"So, you two can recognize them again if you saw them again?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Yes, sir, Mr. Ken, I can recognize the one guy for sure, since I've seen him three of four times, now, and if Colt remembers the other guy, and that lady, we could identify them all for you. … Mr. Ken … do you think they are … you know, gonna try something with Collin, since they are watching him?" a suspicious Jerry asked.
"I can't answer that, Jerry. It could just be coincidence they happen to be in the same places as us. You know, we are all captives, sort of, on the ship and there are only so many places one can go. It isn't like we are at home and can go anywhere. Let's just enjoy today's helicopter tour. Then, when we get back, we'll talk it over with your mom and dad. What do you say to that, Jerry? Colt?" asked Mr. Ken.
"I agree, I don't see anyone following us now, so the best thing is to enjoy the helicopter ride. I've never been in one before," said Colt, "and I sure am looking forward to this. I brought my digital camera, so I hope we get some real good shots. Boy, when we get back home, we'll have a hell of a trip to talk about."
"Colt, watch your language. You're lucky mom wasn't here," said Jerry. "She'd have had your hide by now." Then Jerry laughed at his brother.
The two boys laughed at their inside joke and then explained to Mr. Ken and Collin how their mom used to swat them, on their behind, when they used a 'bad' word. Now, all she does is give them a stern look.
The helicopter pilot gave them a brief safety briefing on how to open the helicopter doors and which way to run if they have to do an emergency landing. Then the four loaded in the copter with Collin up front and Mr. Ken seated between the two boys in back. They all had headsets to protect their hearing, and so they could talk to one another. As soon as the helicopter was airborne, the lads' eyes opened wide and stayed that way for the entire four hour flight.
They first flew along the edge of the island, so they could get a perspective of its size. When they flew over Fort Amsterdam, the pilot circled for the boys to get a good 360 degree view, and some good pictures. From there, their pilot flew to the Great Salt Pond, near Madam Estate, then on to Oyster Pond on the border. He explained that was the starting point for the Dutch and French citizens whose legendary foot race in opposite directions divided the island and established each country's boundaries in 1648.
After that, they overflew Dawn Beach to enjoy the spectacular sea views and a look at charming St. Barthélemy across the channel, as well as numerous quaint West Indian houses. The pilot took them everywhere and anywhere. At the end, the boys were speechless from the spectacular scenes they saw. Jerry and Colt couldn't thank Mr. Ken enough for including them in his, and Collin's, private tour. They each gave the man a big hug.
On the way back to the boat, Mr. Ken had their tour guide stop for them to have a bite to eat. After that, they went to the beach to snorkel and enjoy the beautiful sea life beneath the ocean waves. The day was very full and exhausting and by the time the four tourists got back to the ship, they were all ready for a snooze. They met up again at 6 that evening for dinner and what a tale they had for Mr. and Mrs. Davies.
Dinner that night was in Parrot Cay. The Davies met up with Mr. Ken and Collin at 6 outside the restaurant, and all were seated along the outside wall against one of the huge circular windows to look out. The two younger boys went with the Caribbean Roasted Chicken which was a safe choice for eleven and thirteen year olds. Cam tried the poached halibut and Michelle asked for seared grouper. Mr. Ken went for the mixed grill featuring four items along with veggies. Collin stayed with the beef course, getting the island spiced grilled rib-eye. The flavors from all the different courses made their table smell delightful.
The table talk consisted of the boy's talking over one another as they told of their helicopter trip all over the island. The Davies', on the other hand, tried to embarrass their youngsters by saying how they tried for another 'mouth to feed'. The boys went ballistic when they heard that, and Mom and Dad both burst out laughing as they got their desired effect. When it dawned on the younger boys the joke was on them, they laughed along with everyone else.
As soon as dinner was over, the six thanked their servers' and then looked for another quiet place to sit and talk. After finding a nice place to sit, the talk focused on Collin's feeling of being followed and Jerry's revelation that he had seen one man, in particular, watching Collin.
"Cam, if this is true, I sure hope we haven't put your family in any danger," offered Ken.
"Well, after you telling us what really happened with Collin, it … ah nonsense," finished Cam, "it is just coincidence that we are your table mates and these fellows are trying to do what? Something."
"What really happened with Collin, Dad," asked Jerry. "What did we miss?"
"Yeah, what did we miss about Collin?" asked Colt. "It sounds like you adults talked about a lot more of the things that happened back at their home after me and Jerr weren't around. Come on, tell us; we want to know, too," insisted Colt.
"Now, Son, that is up to Mr. Thomas here, and Collin, if they want you to know everything," a stern talking dad spoke to his oldest boy.
"Let's stay focused on this 'watching' thing, first, okay?" insisted Michelle. "We need to decide if there is any truth to it and, if so, why!"
"I agree with you, Michelle," said Ken Thomas.
"Yeah, I do too, and if this guy is watching what I am doing … I bet we can catch him at it," added Collin.
"Hold on there, Collin," a serious sounding Mr. Ken spoke up, "I don't like the idea of you going alone anywhere, now that this may be happening. You know what happened back after Thanksgiving. What if these guys are part of that same group?"
"Mr. Ken, Bro, how could they know we would be here? You kept this such a complete surprise that the only people who knew were the ones who booked this trip for us. And aren't they the same ones you've always used for all your trips? Don't you trust them?"
"I guess you are right, there, Collin … but I just don't like you running around here by yourself," declared Mr. Ken.
"I'll watch out for him," announced Jerry.
Mom immediately pronounced, "YOU WILL NOT, young man! And THAT is the END of THAT. DO YOU HEAR ME?!"
"Yes, Mom," a subdued eleven year old responded.
The six sat there thinking to themselves for a few minutes. People were walking past them but not that close that they could have heard what they were saying. Then Jerry looked up and saw the man again holding the Disney Cruise newsletter.
"Hey, everyone," lightly speaking said Jerry, "don't look now, but that guy, who I've seen following Collin, is standing over there by the railing, holding the paper."
Mr. Ken looked right up and saw the man, now talking to another man. Cam turned to look in that direction, and both he and Ken got a good look at both of them. Then Michelle looked and said the lady with them was indeed the lady who came over to them that first night.
Collin, Colt and Jerry didn't look right away, but got into a wrestling match and began rolling on the floor, like kids would, and that gave them a good look at the people they thought could be watching what Collin was doing.
Cam got up to make it look like he was separating them and took another good look. Then Cam announced a bit loudly that he and Michelle were going to find a drink with their name on it and invited Ken to join them. The younger boys said they wanted to play some video games and Collin, of course, said he wanted to get with his new friends. And with that, the six headed in three different directions.
Collin watched behind him as he entered the elevator to go change. When he got off and didn't see anyone following him, he relaxed some and went to the cabin. Colt and Jerry, instead of going to the arcade, waited near where Collin had to go to get to the Stack. They wanted to see if any of the men came near. Ten minutes later, they did see one of the men find a seat and begin reading a book. Collin passed right by there as he ascended to the upper most level, Deck Eleven. Both boys saw the man pull out a small notebook and write something on it. Then he went back to reading his book.
Colt and Jerry left the guy sitting there and went looking for their parents and Mr. Ken. It took them about twenty minutes to find the trio, and as soon as they did, they told them what they saw. Now, Mr. Ken had a dilemma. Did he continue to watch the men or go to the captain or security or both, and maybe see what they thought? Ken excused himself and walked off.
Up in the Stack, Collin and Kattie got together again and enjoyed some dancing and karaoke with their friends. The two acted like a couple, and the other girls were sort of jealous they didn't get to Collin first. A shipboard romance was better than no romance at all, as far as they were concerned.
The next day was another port visit day, this time to the Virgin Islands. Knowing that, the gathering of teenagers broke up their little group around eleven o'clock and they all headed to their cabins. Collin again walked Kattie to her cabin and got a good night kiss for his efforts. He had completely forgotten about the men watching him, until he bumped into one, as he rounded the corner going to the elevator. The man was startled at first but then recovered by asking the teen where the nearest restroom was. Collin quickly got back to his cabin and told Mr. Ken what just happened.
"Hello, security? Would you please send a detective or security to cabin 7076? Call me back if there is going to be a problem and then I'll go and see the Captain," a very pissed off Ken Thomas said over the shipboard phone. Then he called Cam and told him what he intended to do.
Fifteen minutes later, there was a knock at their door. Mr. Ken asked who it was and the man announced he was the First Officer and along with him was the Chief of Security.
It only took Ken and Collin ten minutes to elaborate to the two very important men what they knew, and what they felt was happening. When the men left the cabin, just past midnight, a plan was in place for the next day.
Six thirty in the morning came way too early for the two travelers so Mr. Ken asked to be called again in two hours.
"Bro, aren't we supposed to meet up with that Chief of Security guy at 8 this morning?" a sleepy Collin called out to his Big Bro.
"Yeah, you're right, Collin. Thanks for remembering; otherwise we'd have been labeled as kooks if we didn't show. … Do you want to go first or should I? I don't have that morning problem that most male teenagers have," teased Mr. Ken. That got him a pillow thrown in his direction.
"One of these days," began Collin, "I will find you with a rip roaring hard on and, Bro, when I do I, hope I have a camera. The first thing I will do is take a picture and the second thing is I will laugh my head off and show it to everyone, including Miss Mary and Miss Judy. With that picture, I intend to show the world that indeed Mr. Ken Thomas is a normal male member of the human race." The pillow came back at him.
At eight o'clock that morning, Collin and Mr. Ken and Jerry and Cam were seated in a darkened room, watching the video cameras focused at the departing guests. It was hoped they could identify the two men and the lady as they departed the ship for the day so they could radio back for more information about them. The shipboard computer had everyone's name, home address, picture, age and sex in its memory banks but didn't have much more than that, so it was up to the foursome to pick those people out in order for them to get more from back at the ship's headquarters.
After two hours of watching the gangplank, none of the departing guests remotely resembled the three people they were looking for. The next thing to do was search through the databank and see if they could be identified that way. After discarding the kids and older male and female pictures, the four were asked to look at the remaining photos separately, so they wouldn't influence each other. It took them another three hours to look through over roughly 1500 pictures of men and women before they settled on three who looked to be the most likely ones to be watched.
The Chief of Security was reluctant to radio for more information right then, as he wanted positive identification, saying he didn't want to obtain information and it turned out to be the wrong person or persons. Though disappointed, Mr. Ken said he understood and then thanked him for his time. Before the four left, a plan was put in place to positively identify the trio.
Seeing it was now after 1 PM, and the ship was to set sail again at 7 that night, the six new friends all headed onto shore to walk around and get their land legs back. Of course they spent money as good tourists do and picked up a few souvenirs to take back home. Meanwhile, the adults had a few adult drinks, with which to cool off, while the boys all tasted the islands fruit drinks like smoothies, and ate some ice cream. Their next stop was dinner aboard ship.
That evening, the six were seated back at the Animator's Palate. Knowing what was going to happen, they made a game of it by trying to guess what would happen next. It was a fun youngster's game, and the six felt relaxed throughout the meal. After finishing dinner, they had reservations at the Walt Disney Theatre, so they all headed there next. Collin happened to see Kattie, along the way, and stopped to introduce her to Mr. Ken. After a few awkward moments, the two stole a quick kiss and the six continued their way to the Theatre, with the two younger lads teasing the older teenager.
The show let out at 9:30 PM and after some discussions, about what time the lads were to be back at the cabins for bed, they all went their separate ways. The two younger boys went with Mr. Ken to watch the only access stairway to the Stack and Cam and Michelle went to another area hoping they would spot the elusive trio there. When you have almost 2100 people, not counting the ship's crew, it is like trying to find a needle in a hay stack when looking to find someone as they were.
Even though they ate not that long ago, the boredom got to the boys who said they were hungry. Since they hadn't eaten any pizza yet, on the voyage, Mr. Ken took the boys to Pinocchio's Pizzeria to chow down. It was while there, the boys noticed one of the men, and gathering up their sodas, and what remained of the pizza, and began to follow the guy.
They must have followed the man for fifteen minutes before he met up with his other friends. Colt had brought his camera along and while the three couples talked, he took as many pictures of them as he could without that group noticing what he was doing. Meanwhile, Mr. Ken got on the ship's phone and called security and asked to talk to the Chief of Security. But before a security agent could arrive, the couples broke up and one of the men went up towards the teen club. Mr. Ken and the boys followed behind.
There were some deck chairs off to the side of the stairs leading to the Stack and that is where the man settled in, and began reading a book. Every time someone either went up or came down those stairs, he looked to see who they were. Ken and the boys watched him do that as Ken again called for the Chief of Security to join them. This time, he did show, but dressed in regular clothes so that no one knew who he was. Colt showed him the pictures he had taken of all six people and that put a smile on the man. The four stayed around and talked but also kept watch on the man's actions. The boys were now beginning to enjoy the 'cloak and dagger' aspects of their cruise. They now had a tale to tell that probably no one back home would ever believe.
Since the ship was at sea the next day, the teenagers up in the Stack decided to stay up late, talking and having fun. It was past 1 AM when Collin walked Kattie to her cabin. The couple always walked so it would take the longest time and in doing that, they would have to pass the two men who were watching for Collin. Collin was so 'girl struck;' he didn't even notice his Big Bro just off the stairs as they walked down. Mr. Ken just shook his head and followed a few minutes behind, along with the boys and the Chief of Security.
Jerry and Colt were a bit disappointed nothing happened that night. The men either figured they were being watched, or they changed their tactics. The four said their good nights and they all went to their respective cabins.
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