Monday morning, Collin and Ryan got into an armor laden SUV driven by a man who looked like he could crush Brazil nuts with his bare hands, alone. The man didn't say a word when the lads were seated in the back. He just drove off to the high school and would remain there until Collin and Ryan were finished for the day.
Later that day,County Sheriff Matthew Barnes and Deputy Sheriff Daniel Fischer arrived at the Cove, to discuss what was being done to secure the Cove and the surrounding area. Since the men in the boat hadn't broken any laws, the lawmen's hands were tied, to some extent. They did provide the information of who the boat was registered to, but they didn't have any reason to stop the men and question them.
"Sheriff, do you have any contacts in the Texas Parks & Wildlife Agency?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Why do you ask, Ken?" replied the man.
"I was wondering if they would do a favor for you, you know, a safety inspection of that boat. You can see what those men have with them, along with their fishing poles, its beer?" Ken Thomas wondered out loud to the two men.
"I like the way you think, there, Mr. Ken. I was wondering the same thing. You say the boys have seen the men almost daily, ever since Spring Break?" asked Sheriff Barnes.
"Yes" replied Mr. Ken.
"Okay, here's what I'm gonna do, Mr. Thomas. I'm gonna call a friend over at Texas Wildlife, and see if they have anyone out on the lake, today and, if they do, see if they could have him or them drop by and do a little Safety Inspection for me. This way, we can get an idea of what we may be dealing with. But, I need you to understand that if all they are doing is just fishing, and haven't broken any Rules, then there is nothing we can do," advised the Sheriff.
"Anything, Sheriff Barnes, to help that boy relax and ... well, not have to worry about someone out to get him, again," offered Mr. Ken.
The lake is huge and it still being early spring, the water is not too full of boaters or fishermen and so the Texas Parks and Wildlife Agency, who patrols the lake, hasn't put on many Game Wardens' out there yet. It took quite some time before a Warden showed up opposite the Cove.
When Collin and Ryan returned from school, that afternoon, and saw a Game Warden stopped next to the boat in question, it was a welcomed sight to them both. It gave them some hope, that maybe; just maybe, things could go back to normal pretty soon. Mr. Ken was also watching from his master bedroom at what was taking place just off his property and he, too, hoped this could end it all for Collin. Before long, the Warden's boat pulled away and the other boat remained where it had been, the past three days.
It was right after dinner that Deputy Sheriff Fischer stopped by the Cove. Mr. Ken invited him into his study while he called for the teenagers to meet him there.
As the teens entered the Study, their Big Bro motioned for them to take a seat and then he said, "Boys, you all know Deputy Fischer. He was sent over by Sheriff Barnes to discuss what the Game Warden found when he did his Safety Inspection this afternoon. Now, that we are all here, let's hear what he has to tell us."
"Hi boys," began Daniel Fischer, "I know you are just as anxious as we and Mr. Ken here are to get to the bottom of what those men are all about. Well, the Game Warden did his Safety Inspection of the boat this afternoon..."
"Yeah, we saw him do that," said Ryan interrupting the Deputy.
"Oh, that was good, then. You know that Sheriff Barnes is trying to help your Big Bro here get to the bottom of this mystery. ... Okay, where was I? Yeah, well Jack Springer, the Game Warden, said that the three men had the proper licenses and safety equipment. He did notice some camera equipment, but couldn't inspect that since the Warden's have no authority to check personal belongings, and stuff like that. Other than that, he says the men haven't done anything wrong, in his eyes, and he had to leave them be."
"Did he get their names?" asked Ryan.
"No, he did not," replied Deputy Fischer.
That deflated both boys and before they could ask him why the man hadn't gotten them he said, "When Jack looked at their licenses, he tried to remember their names, but he said he wasn't told to get them, but only check them out, to make sure they were legit. I'm sorry boys, but that is all we got."
The boys looked dejected, but Collin looked the most disheartened. He thanked Deputy Fischer and said his goodbyes and left the Study; then, both he and Ryan, went upstairs to the bedroom.
"Can you believe that Col, that they didn't get the names of the guys? Damn! You'd think they'd know to do that shit," said a very pissed-off Ryan.
"Yeah, I know what you mean, Ry. ... I'll bet Bro will find another way to get their names, and everything. He has some guys he hired to find out who they are and what they are doing. ... Hey, are you spending the night?" asked Collin.
"Not sure, let me call mom," replied Ryan.
Downstairs, Mr. Ken called his contact, who he hired to find the info on those men in the boat. All he was told was that it had only been 24 hours, and they were still working on the problem and they wanted to give him a full report and not drips and drabs of information that didn't make sense. Mr. Ken wasn't too pleased at that, but he understood what the man was saying. Frustrated, the man got his coat and went outside to walk around, and do some thinking. Five minutes later, his once constant companion, Chief, joined him, and they walked the property line together, as they did long before Collin arrived.
Tuesday turned out to be a very busy day. Only two weeks to the election, and the candidates he supported were out speaking to any group who would have them. The turn of events from two weeks ago charged up their candidacy and interest in what they had to say; so, they were taking advantage of every opportunity, to get their ideas out.
Walking into the Study, after returning from school, Collin said to his guardian, "Bro, we heard today that Rodney was taken to a rehabilitation nursing home. Do you think that we could go visit him this weekend?"
"Sure, I don't see why we can't go, Collin. It would be good to get out and let you get some more driving practice in, before you take you driving test, at the end of the month," answered Mr. Ken.
Collin put on a great big smile when he heard he would be able to take his driver's test, then. It was his intention to get to drive, but this would let him see how Rodney is doing and practice some.
"Bro, I won't have to drive that big 'tank' I ride to school in, will I?" asked the teenager.
"No, we'll take the Taurus and have the 'big guy' sit in the back for a change," teased the lad's mentor, laughing at the sight of the burly man in the back of the car.
"Hey, where's your sidekick?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Oh, he wanted to get some driving practice in, so 'mom' told him she'd do that tonight and then they'd spend a 'nice night together'. She told him she needed to cherish these days because, before long, he'd be off to college. Ryan told me he should do that for her; so, he went willingly. He even had a smile on his face. I'll call later and find out how things went. ... Oh, by the way, did you get any more information about those men yet?" asked the curious teen.
"I'm sorry, Collin, but I haven't. Those men need time to get the information and I can't bug them too much about it. They realize the seriousness of what they are doing, so they will get back to me when they have the answers. ... What have you planned for tonight?" asked the man to finish up what he was saying.
"I thought I'd get my homework done, before dinner. That way I'd have some free time to come down here and bug you," laughed Collin as he said that last bit. "What do you have in mind?"
"You know I don't mind you being around me when I'm working. I just thought that ... well, we haven't had much time together, as of late, and I thought we could watch a movie together, like we used to," replied Mr. Ken.
"I'd like that, Bro! That sounds real good. What time and what movie?"
Dinner was over by 7 and the two, man and teen, found themselves sitting together in Mr. Ken's special lounger, as they watched a movie.
"You know, Mr. Ken, I really enjoy it when it is just us ... you know ... sitting together, like we used to. I've been so busy with things that I never even thought of us coming down here and just, you know, just chillin' out," said Collin, as he lightly hugged the man whom he considered saved his life – twice.
The two movie watchers enjoyed being together as much as the movie, and by the end of the film, they were both peacefully asleep. It was well past midnight when they awoke and said their goodnights. Collin didn't care that he hadn't called Ryan. He had just shared a very private time with his Big Bro, and he wouldn't give up anything for the chance to do that.
The rest of the week went fast. The riding to school with a bodyguard was getting old for Collin, and even the kids at the high school started to tease him, not knowing the real reason for it.
Friday evening, the boys made plans to meet their 'girls' at The Mall, for dinner and a movie. They knew they'd have 'company' with them that night, but didn't know that another, equally powerful, man would be at the Mall, waiting. They made arrangements with George, to meet up with him at a specific place, and so they thought they would be free of the man, and would then be able to enjoy being alone with their 'girls'.
Their smiling faces changed immediately when an exact duplicate of 'George' began to follow, and watch their every move. Finally, Ryan had had enough and turned and went to the man and confronted him.
"Why are you following us, mister?" demanded Ryan. "We may be only teenagers, but if you're gonna mess with one of us you'll have to mess with us both. Also, we are meeting our ... ah someone in a few minutes, so don't think you can do anything to us!" announced Ryan in a dead serious tone.
The lager than life man only smiled at the young teenager and then said, "I know about the man you'll soon be meeting up with. I know he's supposed to watch out for you and all. I'm just filling in for him, right now."
Collin and Ryan looked at one another and then back to the huge man with questions in their eyes.
"Relax, George is my twin brother. I'm Gene, by the way, and the two of us will be around to make sure nobody messes with you, or your friends, tonight."
The teens relaxed, at the revelation, but then got pissed they'd have two bodyguards watching their every move with their girlfriends, that night.
Seeing the teens reaction to having two people watching over them that night, Gene said, "Relax, we're not going to watch you guys in the movie theater. We'll check the place out before the movie, and we'll watch who comes and goes. You'll still be able to be two horny teens, without us watching." Then Gene laughed as his twin came up to the three of them.
After a few quick 'understandings', Collin and Ryan met up with their dates and walked up to the Food Court for something quick to eat, before going to the movie.
"Collin," began Shelley, "what gives with all these big men being with you all the time. I mean, all week, they've been with you and around you and you sure don't look happy about it. Can you let us in what's up with that?"
Megan was also curious about all the 'bodyguard' types hanging around Collin, but she was too scared to ask. She was happy his girlfriend asked instead.
"Let's go over there in the corner and talk, okay?" answered Collin.
Once they sat down and Collin saw that there was no one around them to hear what he was going to say, he decided to tell the girls something, but not everything.
"Shelley, Megan, these guys are Big Bro's idea. You know how the reporter's badgered us at the news conference and how heated this election is. Well, he wanted to make sure no one tried anything, for now, so these guys will probably be around until the election is over," lied Collin. "Thank goodness!" he added.
"Meg, Shel, you can't say anything to anyone, okay?" offered Ryan. "Yeah, everyone sees them with us, and all, but they don't know the reason and we don't want them to know. If it gets out, the reporters will make a big deal out it and that could distract or even hurt our candidates chances for a win in ten or eleven days."
"You guys think you can do that for me, well us?" asked Collin.
"Yeah, I think that can be arranged," teased Shelley, "but it'll cost you."
Both girls looked at one another and then smiled.
"Col, I think we'd better be ready. Something tells me, we might not get to see much of the movie tonight," deadpanned Ryan.
The four teenagers had a good laugh over what Ryan had just said and, with that, they all dug into their food, and continued into a light hearted conversation about the election and what it might mean.
After the movie, George brought the limo around for the four teens to ride in style. Gene joined him in the front, but, with the privacy glass between the driver's area and the passengers, there was no way either group knew what the other was doing. The two couples took advantage of that and made up for what they couldn't do in the theater.
After a Dairy Queen Blizzard, and some riding around, the girls were dropped off at home at midnight, as usual, and the two young men went back to the Cove.
"I hope you two had a good time, tonight," offered their Big Bro. "I know you weren't too keen on having two bodyguards tonight but ... well, I had to make sure that your dates were protected along with you. I heard from George's and Gene's boss, tonight, and he said he'd be over tomorrow about noon to brief me. You two are invited."
Collin and Ryan looked back and forth at one another and then smiled.
"Thanks, Bro," said Collin. "We'll be down for breakfast and then get cleaned up before the man gets here."
Both boys gave the man a quick hug and went right up to bed. Chief quickly followed after being with Mr. Ken all evening.
"Hello, boys," said Mr. Ken, as the teens entered the Study, the following morning. "I want you to meet Mister Jules Diamond. He's the man I hired to look into the guys on the boat. It was also his men who were your constant companions all week."
"Jules, this is Collin Wilkinson and his best friend, Ryan Taylor," explained Mr. Thomas.
After the normal pleasantries, Mr. Diamond got down to business.
"Mr. Thomas, as you know, those men sort of disappeared after the Game Warden's inspection of their boat. But that didn't mean they totally went away. They just changed faces, so to speak. There were a total of six men involved in watching Mr. Wilkinson. We were able to identify whose boat it was and we came to find out the owner rented it out to someone other, than those men. Those pictures you provided us with were the best I've seen in a long time, and they helped us tremendously."
"You have Ryan there to thank for them, Jules. He's been my official photographer, ever since I started building Three Finger Cove," praised Mr. Ken.
"Ah, yes, you're the young man who took all the pictures and video after the shooting here. I hope you know you made a few enemies, for doing that, young man!" said Mr. Diamond.
"Well, I figured that, but they all said I'd done a good job, and I made a few dollars, thanks to my Big Bro, here. I'm sure they'll get over it," responded Ryan.
"Well, with those pictures, the owner was able to tell us that none of these men were the renters. And, after telling him why we were interested in his boat, he gave us permission to check it over, and we got some leads as to who those men were.
"My men were then able to find out that those men on the boat are private investigators. What we haven't been able to find out is who hired them to watch Three Finger Cove, if that was what they were doing. My men are now watching the watchers, and we hope they will lead us to person or person's who are involved with this snooping.
"My personal feeling is that these men were harmless. It will be up to you, Mr. Thomas, when to stand down my men watching over young Collin here."
"I thought you said there were six men. What did they all do?" asked Collin.
"The three in the boat turned over their jobs to others who watched you come and go, Collin. George got some pictures of them, too. I am hopeful that, in time, we will know who their employer is and possibly why he, or she, was watching. They have all retreated, for now," finished up Mr. Diamond.
"Bro, does that mean we won't have George hanging around with us any more?" asked a hopeful teenager.
"I've asked Mr. Diamond to have his men continue to watch the Cove, all weekend, and if no one looks like they are watching you, or the Cove, then, I think we can go back to normal, or whatever that is," teased their Big Bro.
Since Collin would be taking his driver's test in the coming week, he convinced his Big Bro to take him out driving that weekend. After sitting in the Taurus for almost eight hours total, for the weekend, Mr. Ken was thankful Sunday night was a day of rest.
Tuesday after school, Collin convinced Mr. Ken to take him for his driving test.
"I see you passed," lamented Ryan.
"Yeah, it was a piece of cake. I'll bet you'll do good, once you take your test, too," replied Collin.
"Will you be driving to school now?" asked Ryan, hoping he wasn't going to lose his bus buddy, now that he had his driver's license.
"Naw, Bro said I need more practice driving and, with all the cars around the school, he said he wasn't going to allow me, just yet. He said maybe in the fall, I'll be able, to. By then, you should have your license, too," said an upbeat Collin.
"What you gonna do now?" asked Ryan.
"Dang, I need to get going. I'm supposed to be home for dinner. I'm sure glad George is no longer watching me. I don't think Bro would have allowed me to drive over here if those men were still around," answered the teen.
"Did they ever find out where they went?" asked Ryan.
"Mr. Diamond said they came from all over the U.S. and he couldn't figure out why. He did say his men were still watching them, and one day they will meet with their employer, and then the pieces will all fall together, and form the big picture. Hey, I gotta run. I'll see you at school, tomorrow, Ry. Bye!" With that, Collin was off back to the Cove.
The rest of the week just flew by for Collin. As the weekend began, he realized it was the last weekend before one of the biggest county elections of all time. Up until then, Collin never followed any sort of politics, even though he watched his dad donate tons of money to many of the politicians he felt would represent him in the best possible manner.
Looking back, Collin was proud he had been directly involved with the candidates and the whole process and it made him appreciate all the time his dad was so involved, all those many years before. The more Collin reviewed his involvement, the better he felt about himself, and it was then he told himself that he, too, from now on, would participate just as his dad once did.