The people who received the Sunday newspaper home delivered saw the headline:
SIX NEW FACES ELECTED
LOSERS VOW RECOUNT
All six opponents, in the School Board and Hospital District Board races, were elected last night. Four candidates won in landslides while the other two eked out their wins when the last of the Precincts Ballot Boxes were finally counted. The campaign manager for Julius Eberhard, the incumbent Hospital Board President, and the campaign manager for Benedict Ransberger, the incumbent School Board President, both vowed to fight the sloppy counting antics by the County Election Clerk's Office\, and the shoddy way the Ballot Boxes were handled. The two men indicated they would challenge every aspect of the Election, from Early Balloting through the early morning ballot count. Both men said there was no way they should have lost that election the way the voting was going into the final hours.
"Good morning, sleepy head," teased Mr. Ken, as a yawning Collin walked into the kitchen, to get some breakfast.
"Morning, Bro," replied the blurry eyed lad.
"Did you see the morning paper headlines, yet, Little Brother?" asked the man.
"No, but I can image what it says. ''Two Losers Cried in Their Beer' or 'Both Losers Yelled They Were Robbed'. Was I close?" smiled Collin as sat down and looked over at his Big Bro.
Mr. Ken just laughed at the teen antics and then remarked, "You were close. Here, read this," as he passed the front page to the sixteen year old.
Collin took the front page and began reading what the newspaper had reported. It took him a few minutes to read the entire article, and understand what it said, but as he returned the paper to Mr. Ken, he said, "Bro, those two guys will try anything, and everything, to make sure they win, won't they?"
"Well, Collin, when you've been in power for as long as they have, they feel they have the right to those seats, and that no one could ever beat them, let alone challenge them. Wait until they count the Absentee Ballots on Monday. I'll bet those two so called gentlemen have prepared speeches all ready for the TV cameras, if they don't get the win out of them. I know our two do." Mr. Ken laughed, as he said that and continued to read the rest of the Sunday paper.
Monday morning, the residents of Three Finger Cove finished their breakfast, got their showers, dressed and were ready at the front door in time for the limo to take them to the County Election Clerk's Office. There, they would witness the count of the Absentee Ballots. Mr. Thomas would represent John Henry at the counting, and Collin was invited to watch and learn.
"Why all the TV cameras, Bro?" asked Collin.
"Collin, this is big, really big for these parts of the County. Those men have been in power for so long, they are like...well, people want to know if they were finally deposed, from their 'high horse'. Also, Collin, for upstarts to challenge them, and win, is even Bigger News, and the people want to see it first hand," explained Mr. Ken.
"But...what if our guys lose, then what?" inquired the teenager.
"Then we'll cross that bridge when we get to it, okay? Look, they're letting the official observers into the room. Let's move in that direction."
At 10 AM, the County Clerk opened the room, where the Absentee Ballots would be counted. The people entered a room which wasn't very large, and it had to accommodate the Election Officials, the unopened ballots, the official observers, and any candidate who wished to watch. With every one settled the County Clerk read the Absentee Ballot Counting Instructions and then the task began.
The County Clerk first announced they sent out a total of 879 Absentee Ballots for that District, but had only received 573 back. The low number of Absentee Ballots plus the need to focus on only two close races meant that the counting would go fairly quickly. Later, all the ballots for every race would be recounted, and those totals would be added to all of the candidate's totals, to complete the Election Cycle.
The counting went smoothly and after counting the Absentee Ballots three times, and getting the same results each time, the County Election Clerk announced the final vote tally for the School Board and the Hospital District Board.
"Ladies and gentlemen, if I could have your attention, please," began the Elections Clerk, "After counting the Absentee Ballots, three times, and arriving at the same results each and every time, I have the final totals for the School Board and Hospital District Board.
"In the School Board race, Benedict Ransberger received 180 Absentee ballots for a total of 12626 votes. His opponent, John Henry Ostrowski, received 393 Absentee Ballots, for a total of 13019 votes. I, the County Elections Clerk, declare John Henry Ostrowski the winner of that race."
The crowd went into an uproar when they heard that John Henry Ostrowski was the winner. They then began to congratulate John Henry with handshakes and high-fives and multiple pats on his back. The noise was so loud the Clerk had to call for quiet several times before order was returned to the room.
"Congratulations are in order to John Henry Ostrowski, for his win. Now, in the Hospital District Board race...Julius Eberhard received 264 votes for a total of 12373 votes whereas Mary Anne Simpson, his opponent received 309 Absentee Ballot votes, for a grand total of 13363 votes. Therefore, I, the County Election Clerk, declare Mary Anne Simpson the winner of the Hospital District Board race."
Once again, the room went into an uproar as now both opponents had been declared the winners, and they could now celebrate, that is, unless one or both of the incumbents filed to have all of the ballots recounted. If that became the case, then it would be another ten days to three weeks before the election results would be final.
Outside the County Clerk's office building, the two apparent losers were both talking to the TV cameras. The two went on to claim the counting was highly irregular the entire night and that the late arriving Precinct boxes proved that there was some shady dealings done to stuff those boxes with enough ballots to swing the victory away from them. When asked if they could come up with the money needed to pay for a recount, they both claimed they would somehow come up with the $5,000.00, they each would need, for that to happen. Then both men, and their campaign managers, all stormed off the dais and disappeared.
In contrast, to what just transpired in front of the cameras with the losers, the winners, John Henry Ostrowski and Mary Anne Simpson, came out and thanked their hard working teams and especially the high school students, who worked diligently, day and night, to make their win all that more special.
Before long, the TV cameras and reporters had their sound bites for the evening newscasts and everyone chose to go their separate ways. Everyone, that is, except the six winners, and their followers, of the most important election races in recent history. Mr. Thomas invited all the Election winners to a victory luncheon where they got to relive the election results and calm down from a hectic eight weeks of campaigning. It was well past 2:30 in the afternoon when Mr. Ken and Collin returned, to Three Finger Cove to catch their own breath, and relax by themselves.
"Hey, Collin, we missed you in class, yesterday. Did you get to watch the Absentee Ballot counting, like you said you might?" asked Brittany, one of the students who helped in the campaign.
But before Collin could answer, many more of the high school students, who helped with all of the winning candidates campaigns, came along to ask that same question.
"How was all that counting business, Col," asked Ryan, as he, too, came up on the assembled group.
"Dang, Bro, you never saw so many people crammed into such a small space. But you all know the bottom line, OUR GUYS and GALS WON!" exclaimed Collin as he raised his arms in victory.
"But, I heard on the news that those two losers were going to challenge the election results," announced Jenny. "Do you know anything about that?"
When Jenny finished her question most of the other gathered students chimed in wanting to know if there was an answer, and also if Collin knew what it was.
"Okay, Mr. Ken explained it to me like this," replied Collin. "He said the candidates have something like ten days too actually file a motion, actually a petition, to challenge the vote count and they also have to each post something like $5000.00, to pay for that recount. But the County Clerk has those ten days to 'canvass the vote', that is to sort of double check his math and make sure the absentee voters were legal and lots more.
"Once that final count is certified, the losing candidates have to decide if they think they still have a chance to win, by having an actual recount of all the Precinct boxes and Early Voting and Absentee ballots results. That's why they have to fork up five grand, in order to pay for that.
"Mr. Ken said that, in most places, if there is less than a 1% difference in the votes, the County does it for free. It sounded complicated, to me, but Mr. Ken says once you follow an election, as we all have now done, you'll begin to understand for the next time. I just hope they don't, but Mr. Ken says those guys don't want to give up their lofty positions so, I, or we, shouldn't hold our collective breaths."
"Is there anything we can do, Collin?" asked Teddy.
"Nope, we've done all we can do, for now, and I want to thank all of you for doing what you all did to help with this election. I know Mr. Ken was thrilled when you all offered to help, but when you all went out and did it he was especially 'gob smacked'." When Collin used that word he laughed.
"What's that ... that gob smacked thing you said, Collin?" spoke up Derrick.
Still chuckling from using the word, Collin replied, "It's a word used mostly by the Brits. It's a slang word meaning astounded or astonished. I had to look it up before I came to school. Mr. Ken used it on me this morning, and I figured I'd use it on you, now that I know what it means."
Just then, the class bell rang and they all dispersed and went to their classes for the day.
"Hello, boys, how did school go, today? Lots of talk about the election, I suppose," spoke up Mr. Ken, as Collin and Ryan entered his Study.
"Yeah, they were all gob smacked," replied Ryan.
Ken Thomas looked up from what he was working on and gave a big smile after hearing the word he used on his Little Bro, earlier in the day.
"I take it that word was used all day long at school," the man remarked, as he began to laugh out loud.
"Yeah, Bro, you should have heard how many people were using that by the end of school, today. It was funny to listen to kids in the halls between classes using it, too," answered Ryan.
Then, Collin added, "It was like a wild fire, Bro. Our group first heard it from me, and then they spread it to the rest of the sophomores, and then we heard the freshmen using it, and by lunch, the seniors were heard using it. Some of our teachers said 'enough is enough' about being gob smacked and or something, but after they said it, they all laughed along with us.
"Bro..." asked Collin, in a serious tone.
"Well...ah some teachers asked me if we were going to have Mr. Stanley fired. You know for what he did to both Ryan and me."
"So, all the kids at school, and even the teachers, know what transpired between you two and him?" asked their Big Bro.
Both boys looked at one another and together they answered, "Yeah, I guess they do."
"Boys, you want my honest answer?"
Again both lads answered in the affirmative.
"Well, it isn't really up to us, meaning me and Collin, and you and your mom, Ryan. What I mean is that...all we can do it take our grievance to the School Board, and see how they will handle it. It is not our call, whether the man stays or not," explained Mr. Ken.
"But, Bro...what he did to both of us...doesn't that warrant him being fired?" strongly asked Ryan.
"Boys, you both have been mistreated, by that man's actions. Keep in mind...he could claim they are isolated instances and that he was misled by those over him, namely the District Attorney. And Ryan, you and your mom will have to talk to David, and see how he wants to handle it from your end. He'll probably want to wait until the Election is official before he presses the School Board, for a settlement.
"Now, what are you two doing in here anyway?"
"Well, mom said she wanted to take a Rain Check for this Saturday's Boating Safety Course. She said she has some clients, who want to talk, and for her, now is a very busy time for people to begin thinking about redecorating their homes," answered Ryan.
The man sat there making it look as if he were thinking about what was just said, but actually, he was waiting for the boys to pop up with their plan he knew they had concocted, in order to fill the now empty seat.
Ken could see both boys looking back and forth at one another and shifting on their feet as if waiting, for the right moment, to ask the 'question.' Mr. Ken inwardly smiled to himself, knowing he had to wait them out. About three minutes later, Ryan coughed. Mr. Ken knew it was about to come out.
"Ah, Bro...ah, since mom won't be able to go to thee ah...ah Safety Course this Saturday...ah...ah do you think we could...you know...ah ask ah...ah our...ah little bro to go with us?" Ryan finally got out.
"Well, I picked a Saturday because that way we could get the whole course done in one day. Maybe your mom could make it attending two different nights, and that way we could all go together. What do you think about that?" quickly replied their Big Bro, knowing full well those two had worked on this 'sleight of hand', all the way home.
"I don't know, Bro," began Ryan, "she is real busy during the spring months. Just look how busy she was decorating this place, before you moved in. That was all done during the late spring."
Then looking over at his best friend, looking for some help, Collin added, "'Mom' said it would be better if she did that later in the summer, when she wasn't too busy. Didn't she, Ryan?"
"Okay, okay I heard enough. You two really want Eric to join us on Saturday, don't you?"
"Yeah," both lads said enthusiastically.
"Okay, you can call Miss Judy and ask her, first. Don't let on to Eric that is why you are calling. I guess you also want him to spend the night?"
Both teens smiled big time when they heard the rest of their plan coming together.
"Okay, then, ask Judy if your 'little bro' could spend the night, too." Then Mr. Ken smiled, and further added, "Now, you two conspirators get out of here and let me get some work done. Also, tell Eric to bring his swim suit, and that we'll pick him up for dinner Friday night. Now, both of you get out of here."
The two lads thanked their Bro, as they quickly ran out of the Study, before the man could change his mind. All Mr. Ken could do after they left was sit back and laugh at the teens' antics thinking how it would have been if indeed he were the boys' older brother and had to deal with them both their entire lives. "Heaven forbid" he thought to himself, and then went back to work.
Saturday morning, they had to be at the training center by 8 AM. Collin set his alarm clock for 6:30 but, when it went off, he thought he hit the SNOOZE button but actually he turned it OFF, completely. At 7 AM, Mr. Ken dialed Collin's cell phone, and let it ring and ring. Before long, the man heard a slightly high pitched but still sleepy voice and immediately knew it was Eric.
"Eric ... wake up your lazy ass brothers, and you all get your showers. Do you hear me Eric?" saying it more loudly than he intended.
"Oh ... ah ... Yes, Sir. Bye."
"WAKE UP, WAKE UP!" yelled Eric as he shoved each teen, in turn, trying to wake them. "Mr. Ken said to get your lazy asses out of bed. It's 7 AM, and he sounds mad," announced Eric.
"Go away ... I want to sleep some more," a sleepy Ryan said from beneath his pillow trying to drown out the sound of the young boy's still high pitched voice.
"Come on ... get UP! Mr. Ken is mad that we aren't up taking our showers," Eric pleaded.
Right then, Chief came into the room and began barking real loud. Then she got up onto Collin's bed and began pulling the covers off of him. She tugged and tugged and finally got them down far enough that Eric got a view he hadn't expected. Collin had his morning tent and he had forgotten young Eric was there, so he didn't cover himself up.
Then, Chief went over to Ryan and pulled the pillow off of him which he quickly grabbed back and then threw it at the dog. Chief barked some more which made Ryan sit up, causing the covers to fall off of him, too, giving his 'little bro' another 'tent show'.
Eric giggled some as he then noticed the size of Ryan's morning flag pole. Ryan then realized what was happening and instead of hiding his erection, he actually stood up and said to Eric, "You've seen it before ... get over IT! Now, let's get Collin out of bed."
Once in the shower, Eric apologized to both his 'big bro's' for seeing their boners, as he called them. The two teens just told him that it was okay and that if he actually had a big brother, they hoped he wouldn't be a prude about his body. They finished their showers, in record time, and met their Big Bro in the front Foyer. A quick stop at McDonalds and the four were on their way for the eight-hour Coast Guard Approved Boating Safety Course.
When they finished the course, Mr. Ken said to the young boy, "I'm sorry, Eric, that you won't be able to drive any of the personal water craft's this year. I wish I had thought about that before we came here, so you wouldn't have ruined your Saturday."
"That's Okay, Mr. Ken. I got to be with my 'big bro's', and you, too, all day, and I also learned a lot about boating safety, even if I can't drive one by myself. ... But, even if I could, I know my mom wouldn't let me. She'd say I was way too young to do that," answered the ten year old without a hint of sadness in his voice.
"You're being a good sport about it, Eric," said Collin, as he ruffled the youngster's hair.
Eric loved the play and banter between him and Collin and Ryan and when they did something, like ruffling his hair, or picking him up and carrying him on their shoulder, he was the most happiest.
"Thanks, Collin, for saying that. Even if I can't drive one of the WaveRunner's, by myself, I sure learned a lot of stuff, today. But, I CAN drive it, if Mr. Ken is on the back. You guys have to be eighteen for me to ride with you, and by that time I should be old enough to drive one, myself. I only need to be 13 for that," teased Eric, as he ran away from Collin, knowing he would get a nuggie if he stayed too close.
"You did learn a lot, Eric," said Ryan. "Even I didn't pick up on that part, about us needing to be at least 18, so you could operate the WaveRunner's with us. That kinda sucks, if you ask me. I was looking forward to having lots of fun with you out on the lake, this summer," lamented the older teen.
The foursome stopped for dinner before heading back to the Cove.
"Mr. Ken ... ah ... ah could I stay tonight, too ... Plleeeaassseee" asked Eric, trying to use his best 'puppy dog' face on the twenty something man.
Ken only laughed at the young boy as he saw how much the boy wanted to be with his unofficial big brothers, one more night.
"Okay, you can spend the night, IF, and I stress ONLY IF, your mom says it is alright with her. You got that, mister?" teased the Cove's owner, as he messed up the young boy's hair. "Go call her and ask, and tell her to call me if there will be a problem. Can you do that, young man?"
"Sure ... I'll be right back. Collin, please let me use your cell phone because I have ta call my mom to see if I can stay tonight," Eric called out as he ran to his 'older bro'.
Later that night, all four guys went swimming. Eric was in his element, enjoying all the attention he was getting from the three most important 'men' in his life. After their swimming fun was over, they were all hungry, as usual, so they headed off to IHOP, for some breakfast. Their night ended, with all four falling asleep, watching a movie down in the Theater.