COMATOSE TEEN AWAKENS
That was the headline, above the fold, that greeted the county residents that Monday morning. Prior to that, the early morning radio stations had already been talking about the 'miracle' from last night, and had been trying since 5 AM to get a hold of Collin and Mr. Ken, for some comment. Lucky for them, both, they had turned off their cell phones, and the house phone, before retiring last night.
"Bro, bro," came Collin, running to the master bedroom.
It was rare that the teen entered that room, not because he wasn't allowed, or welcome, but because he knew that it was Mr. Ken's private area, and he respected that enough not to go there, unless there was something so important, like this morning that he would ever enter.
"What is it Collin?" asked the still sleepy man.
"On the radio, turn it on, their talking about Rodney and ... the 'miracle' from last night. Turn it on and listen. They said they've been trying to call us, but we aren't answering. What should we do, Mr. Ken?" blurted out the excited teenager.
Ken Thomas reached over and turned on his bedside radio, to his favorite AM station. Upon turning it on, they both heard ...
"... and that is all we know, at the moment, about the 'miracle' that occurred at the hospital last night. Again, sources tell this station that Collin Wilkinson and Ryan Taylor were the ones who are responsible for Rodney Costa waking up from his more than two weeks coma, after being brutally beaten, and left for dead. These sources say the two teens, both of whom are being hailed as leaders of the "Rally for Rodney" and the "Stop Violence Against Students" campaigns, were the last two to visit Rodney, before the teen came out of his coma.
"Collaborating sources say that the boy began asking for his cake the two boys had sort of promised him. Our sources said that Collin and Ryan had talked to the comatose teen for over 90 minutes and talked about the rally and their sixteenth birthday party. We are still attempting to reach the 'miracle' teens but so far have not been able to talk to either of them. ..."
What are we going to do Mr. Ken?" asked Collin just as the man turned off the radio.
"Let's see if both Mary and or Ryan have their phones turned on. We can then sort of plan what to do, together, since it concerns the two of you. You try Ryan and I'll try Mary."
Collin headed up to his bedroom, with Chief following quickly behind. Once there, he quickly dialed his best friend's cell phone number. After three rings Ryan answered.
"Ryan did you hear what they are saying over the radio about us," yelled Collin over his cell phone.
"Yeah, mom and me just heard it, and we tried calling you guys, but your phones must have been off. What are we going to do Col?" asked the teen.
"Bro is trying to call 'mom' right now. He wants us to plan something together, since it concerns the two of us. I guess he'll want to do a news conference, or something. He already has that other news conference scheduled for noon today, along with Bill Jackson," offered Collin.
The two teens talked about what they heard over the radio and how they thought they should respond. Meanwhile, Mr. Ken had gotten a hold of Mary and the two of them were discussing what they thought would be best. The whole time, both Mr. Ken and Collin were on their cell phones they had the unmistakable clicking of someone trying to reach them, on their cell numbers. Both refused to answer the incoming calls. Eventually, Mary decided that she and Ryan would get cleaned up and they would meet with Mr. Ken and Collin, over at the Cove.
Collin heard what was going to happen from Ryan, so he too went and got cleaned up. Afterwards, he met Mr. Ken, who was now also cleaned up, and wearing a suit, in the Study. His Big Bro was talking on the phone and it sounded to Collin like it was Bill Jackson on the other end.
"That was Mr. Jackson, I take it," said Collin.
"Yes, it was. He and I talked about how this will affect our conference at noon. We knocked around some ideas and now I need to talk to Mary and Ryan and you, of course, to see if you'll agree to go along with us," revealed Mr. Ken. "Let's get us some breakfast, while we wait on them."
"What about school?" asked Collin.
"Yes, I better prepare them for what might happen. Collin, I'm going to tell them you won't be there until this afternoon. I'm also going to mention that Ryan probably wouldn't be there, as well, because of what has occurred. I'll bet they will be relieved they won't have to deal with the reporters all morning. Or, will they?" finished up the man. Then both of them laughed as Collin's guardian phoned the high school.
Mary agreed with Mr. Ken and kept Ryan from school that morning, and would decide after the news conference if he would go for the afternoon session. She stayed with the boys while Mr. Ken and Bill Jackson met at the courthouse to file their motions and lawsuits. She and the boys would meet up at twelve noon with the two men. In the meantime, the two boys practiced answering some questions, posed to them, by Mary and some Mr. Ken had written out so they would be prepared later on.
A few minutes past twelve, noon, Bill Jackson, accompanied by Ken Thomas, walked up to the microphones and said, "I'd like to read a statement, then, we will take your questions. "Today, we were forced by the School Board, and the Hospital District Governing Board, to file our lawsuits in order to receive relief, from their refusing to abide by the agreements they made with my clients. It has been more than a month and both Boards have given their agreements little to no action to include scheduling the Open Meetings they agreed too, and establishing review committees to oversee the information gathered, as well as looking at certain people who were involved necessitating the initial meetings, in the first place.
"Their complaint of prior scheduling is bogus and their saying they require a quorum for the Open Meetings is also bogus. Both Boards have members out running for office instead of taking care of business. This lawsuit was filed to force them to fulfill their agreements and also compensate my clients for what they are going through, waiting and waiting, for the problems with both Boards to be resolved. We asked the judge to order both Boards to immediately schedule the required forums. We also asked that twelve forums be scheduled between now and Election Day so the people can access their representatives and hear how they are acting and for whom they are acting.
"I have some audio recordings I want to play so you can hear for yourself how the members of these Boards operate. The first recording is of School Board Member Matthew Drucker talking with School Board Member Tobias Jordan and building contractor Mr. Stanley Mitchell, whose son Raleigh is one of the boys accused of bullying Collin Wilkinson – 'Toby we need to keep stalling those Open Meetings to build a Student Handbook. Well Matt we've been able to hold them off this long. All we need are a few more weeks and the election will be over and we can then totally forget about a student Handbook or anything else that takes our power away from us. Stan can you help us with the delaying tactics. Sure can. I'll write up a work proposal, back date it, and this way you can use it as a reason that you can't hold those Open Meetings right now. Just site that as your main reason for not being able to deal with the issue, right now. Sounds good to me! Yeah, to me too.' That is how your school board members look down at their constituents," added Bill Jackson.
The reporters began asking questions as soon as Bill turn off the recording. Ignoring them, he told them he was going to play another recording, and so he did. "This is a partial recording of Julius Eberhard, Hospital District Board President, and Richard Mason, a Hospital Board Member, talking about their upcoming election – 'Rick we need to bring out all the big guns if we want to maintain our seats this May. That bastard Jackson put us in a bind, at that Special Board Meeting, and made us look like a bunch of fools. What do you suggest Julius? You've been doing this a lot longer than I have.
'If it weren't for you I wouldn't have this seat, and I do enjoy the perks that come with it. Yes, free medical care, for our families, and those scrumptious expensive meals are a bonus aren't they? (Both men are heard laughing.) Okay, this is what we are going to do. We are going to get some well-placed individuals and have them start some rumors about our opponents drinking and driving records. We'll even Photoshop up some, if we need to. We'll also claim the Mr. Thomas is funneling more money than he is allowed to into their campaigns. By the time they can fix those problems, we'll be sitting for another two years.'
Turning off the recorder Bill Jackson said, "These men are more interested in getting themselves elected rather than doing what is right for the public they serve. Now we'll take a few of your questions."
Bill and Mr. Ken answered questions for almost half an hour. They explained how the men in question were dead set on derailing the agreements already in place for their respective Boards. Bill went on to explain that the defamation of the people running against Julius Eberhard and Richard Mason had already begun. Bill told them that lucky for him he had that recording before that happened and that he was able to get the Official Records released before hand. Mr. Ken told the reporters that he had a well-known CPA, as the campaigns watchdog from the get go, so shenanigans, such as what Eberhard and Mason tried to pull, wouldn't hold water.
The two men then went on to retell what happened at both Board meetings and what the results were supposed to be, but that they had been delayed by both groups, so the real truth wouldn't come out before the elections. All the reporters were seen writing fast and furious, as the television cameras had caught it all for the evenings news casts. All Mr. Ken and Bill had to do was hope they got it right, and the truth would be out at 6 and 11 that night.
The men knew that Collin and Ryan would be there, after their news conference, and they told the gathered reporters and newsmen that fact, as asked them to stay to get the boys story.
Just a little after 12:30 both Collin and Ryan, accompanied by Mary Taylor, arrived at the Courthouse steps. The reporters rushed the two and threw questions at the boys who refused to answer any of them. They made their way to Mr. Ken and Bill and talked to the men, for a few minutes, before Mr. Ken addressed the crowd.
"Ladies and gentlemen, this morning we all either read or listened to accounts of a supposed 'miracle' that occurred last night at the hospital. The boys who are in the middle of that story came here today to tell their account of what happened, and then answer some of your questions. First up will be Collin Wilkinson."
"Thank you for giving us the time to speak about what happened last night, and to answer your questions. First of all, we all need to continue to search for the people who put Rodney Costa in that coma, in the first place. Now, that Rodney is awake, he will be able to tell the police more of what happened, that night, but we all need to help them catch those men and or women."
"Can you tell us what happened last night?" yelled a reporter.
"I am getting to that," responded Collin. "I wanted to make sure what was said at the rally about finding Rodney's attackers weren't being forgotten the same way as the School Board and Hospital Board has deliberately done about the Student Handbook and changing the procedures for visitation and hiring practices at the hospital."
A "well said" was heard from the crowd.
"Now, about last night, Ryan and I went to visit Rodney ... late in the afternoon. It is said that people in comas can hear what is going on around them, but because of the trauma they've received they 'are asleep' and just can't respond. From the beginning, myself, and many others, have gone to Rodney and just talked to him about anything and everything. Ryan and I told Rodney about the rally and then about our 16th birthday party. We must have talked for a good 90 minutes before we ran out of things to say, so we then left. The one thing we did differently last night was we both gave him a hug.
Ryan then stepped up to the microphones and added, "Then we gave Mrs. Costa a big hug and then went home for dinner, and to talk about the election and the dirty tactics Mr. Benedict, Mr. Drucker and Mr. Jordan from the School Board had done to our candidates. It was later that we received a phone call from Mrs. Costa. She called to tell us that Rodney came out of his coma. Now, I want to let Collin finish up before we take your questions." Collin then stepped forward and Ryan backed up away from the microphones.
Collin simply added that the way they initially heard the phone call they were afraid that something different had happened to Rodney only to find out that the teenager was now awake, and wanting the cake he and Ryan were talking to him about, earlier that day.
The crowd had a good laugh at hearing about the cake and Ryan was asked to tell more about the story and Rodney's instance on having cake and ice cream. Then the two boys stepped up together to begin taking questions.
"Collin, Rene Vaughn, KBLY, I hope you don't mind if I ask Ryan some questions first? It seems you are in the spotlight, quite often, and I want to give you friend a chance. Is that OK?"
"Sure, I have no problem with that. I just wish I didn't have all those things happen to me that put me in that spotlight. Go for it Ry!" replied Collin.
The crowd had another big laugh at what Collin said and it helped Ryan immensely get at ease so he could answer any questions.
"Ryan, why is it that you are visiting a boy who seriously injured your best friend, as I hear it? Why were you two there last night?" asked Rene Vaughn.
"Rodney isn't the bad guy here, Ms. Vaughn, contrary to what you want to believe. Rodney went to court for what he did and Collin accepted his apology and was happy with the Courts sentence. When Collin heard Rodney had been beaten, he immediately went to see what he could do for him and his mom. Being Collin's best friend, I support him in what he has done, and is trying to do for the teenager," answered Ryan.
"But ..." Rene began another question before she was interrupted by Ryan.
"But nothing Ms. Vaughn, all you want to do is stir up trouble where there is none," blurted out Ryan. "Collin forgave Rodney because he found out there was much more to it than his being attacking by him. If you had done your job you would have found that out ... instead of continuing to put our friend down."
The crowd applauded and voiced their agreement with what Ryan had just said. Rene Vaughn was visibly shaken about what was said and she just stood there with her mouth open.
"Collin, tell us more about this 'miracle'," said another reporter.
"There's actually nothing more to tell," said Collin.
"But why is it that they said it was 'a miracle'?" continued the same reporter.
"My guess is ... is that it was widely thought that Rodney would never recover from such serious injuries. Some of the nurses used to ridicule us when we went to talk to Rodney. They told us we were wasting our time and interrupting their work. But, I, for one, have seen how someone talking... to a person in a coma can help.
"That is another reason why it is so important to Mr. Ken and Mr. Jackson to get the Hospital Board to get off their collective asses and do what is needed to turn around the attitudes of the way people are treated there and get rid of those employees who only care about their own fiefdoms.
"The Hospital Board needs people with new ideas and people who will be dedicated to ensuring that employees have better bedside manners, than we've seen there lately. The School Board is the same way. For way too long the same people are elected time and time again and nothing changes except their voting themselves a bigger salary.
"The 'miracle' last night was that Rodney will live ... despite some hospital workers saying otherwise. The nurses, I'll bet, are the ones who started the 'miracle' story in the hopes they would get their 15 minutes of fame. It didn't happen that way now did it? Ryan and I just happen to be Rodney's last visitors who happened to talk about cake to him.
"Only time will tell IF Rodney wasn't prompted to ask for cake and ice cream last night. That was the last thing someone in the ICU heard us talking, to him, about. Doctor Selwyn, Rodney's doctor, IS one of the most professional of the staff I have ever met there. He had an honest concern about Rodney, from the start, and always wished us well when we came to see his patient."
The crowd stood there shocked at what they heard the teen just say. They too began to wonder if the 'miracle' was just a way of someone getting their 15 minutes of fame. Some of the onlookers began to walk away.
"One last question Collin," asked a different newspaper reporter. "How is that you are involved in these upcoming elections? I mean, you aren't from around here, yet, we find you at rallies speaking and campaigning for these people who have no experience in any of those arenas."
Collin stood there taken aback at the question. He couldn't for the life of him understand why the reporter stated it in such a way. No experience my foot he thought and then formulated his response.
"First of all, I live here NOW! That is one reason why I am involved in this upcoming election. Second, the current School Board cares nothing about the students, and their attitude towards my being attacked shows that. Thirdly, their unwillingness to set things right, about bullying, and their refusal to establish a Student, Teacher, and Staff Handbook that would give guidance and set policies and guidelines for everyone associated with the School District is reprehensible.
"As for the challengers, in these hotly contested local elections, they have just as much experience the incumbents did when they first ran for office. The ONLY difference is that the challengers, the people I and thousands of people support, do not have to kiss the asses of the people who they are beholding too and owe favors too in order to keep their seats. It is about time we got rid of the old and put in the new who will be the advocate for the students and the patients.
"Mr. Eberhard stated he's been on the Hospital District Board ever since it was established. He has NO new ideas! He has ONLY his biased and prejudicial views along with his cantankerous overbearing power hungry need to be in total control.
"As for the trio of Mr. Drucker, Mr. Jordan and along with Mr. Benedict, the School Board would be better off without them. The School Districts parents and their children deserve Board members who are dedicated to making their schools a safe place to learn and who are protected from bullies and tyrants in the form of teachers and school administers and principles.
"I urge the people to get out and vote. Go to the early voting places after work or on Saturday and vote. Don't wait until Election Day. We need new blood on both Boards and the only way to make that happen is for all of you to get out there and VOTE!"
With that said, Collin walked away from the microphones and joined Mr. Ken and Bill Jackson along with Mary and Ryan as they walked inside the Courthouse to get away from the reporters and onlookers. Needless to say, the boys didn't go back to school that afternoon.