The talk at school that Monday morning was the fight. People who were there, people who wish they had been there, and people who heard other people talking about the fight, were all talking about 'The Fight', as it came to be known.
Most of the sophomores, who knew Ryan and Collin, came up to Collin to express their chagrin over what happened at the water park, but especially at what happened to Ryan.
"Hey, Collin," called out Damon.
"Oh, hi, Damon, what's up?" replied Collin.
"Did you get to see how … you now … how Ryan was, yesterday?" inquired Damon. "People have been asking me but … well; I didn't get over there, sorry."
"Hey, Damon, there's no reason to be sorry. They gave Ry a sedative, and he didn't wake until later in the afternoon. I didn't get over there until after dinner. I stopped over to see Rodney, first. I needed to talk to him about some things," explained Collin.
"You know everyone is hurting, right now, about what happened to you guys, but especially what happened to Ryan. Megan is almost a basket case over it. Someone told me her mom told her she couldn't see him anymore if 'those boys were always going to keep getting into trouble'," further revealed Damon, and shocking Collin.
"Damn … what did we do?" asked Collin to no one in particular.
Just then Shelly and Megan came up to Collin and he could tell the two had been crying. Collin first went to his girlfriend and gave her a hug, but then went to Megan and gave her a hug, too, but he also said quietly to her, "Meg, this is the first time Ryan has ever had a broken bone or ever had to stay in the hospital. Your mom is just directing her anger at the wrong people. … She'll come around, you'll see."
"I hope you … you're right, Collin. (Sniff, sniff.) She was really pissed that … that I was even there, and could have been hurt, too," sniffled out Megan who then blew her nose.
"Meg … Bro told me yesterday that those guys would have gone after me and or Ryan no matter what. They had a grudge, and … well, he said it was bound to happen. It was just lucky, if you can call it that, it happened where it did … where there were lots of people, and help was close by," explained Collin.
By this time, a number of other friends had gathered and listened to what was being said.
"By the way, everybody … Ry should be out later today. If you didn't know by now … they kept him over night because he had a slight concussion and he didn't sleep well Saturday night, after his surgery. They wanted him to have a better rest before they'd let him go home. I wouldn't expect him back to school until Wednesday or maybe Thursday," spoke out Collin, so everyone could hear.
As Collin was speaking, Hannah and Brittany passed by and snickered the entire time. They made eye contact with Collin then said, "how'd it feel?" All the teen could do was stand there and glare back. It really pissed him off. Once the two girls passed, the others in the group asked him what they meant by their comment, but he said hadn't a clue.
As the group broke up, and began walking towards their first classes of the day, Collin pulled out his cell phone and called Bro. He knew he couldn't wait until lunch or after school to tell his guardian what his gut told him, 'Hannah and Brittany were involved with the fight'.
Over at the Cove, that afternoon, Mr. Ken received an interesting call from Jules Diamond, Private Investigator. He was the man responsible for finding out as much as he could about the person or persons who were watching the Cove, during Spring Break and afterwards.
"Jules … it's been a while since we talked, and it is good to hear from you. I hope, my friend, you have some better information for me this time," said Mr. Ken, getting down to the nitty-gritty.
"Yes, Mr. Thomas, I think I have some real good info for you, this time. I do believe I have the name of the person who was responsible for sending those snoops to watch Three Finger Cove, and you, and Collin," relayed Jules Diamond.
"You don't say, Jules?" a very surprised Ken Thomas replied. "Please, tell me more!"
"Bro, you in there?" called out Collin as he rounded the corner to Mr. Ken's Study.
"Nope, I ran away from home," replied the teen's Big Bro. "What can I do you for?" laughed the man at the lad who just sat down in a soft leather chair.
"Bro, did you think any more about what I said about Hannah and Brittany? The way they said what they did made me think that … well, that those two were involved, somehow, in what happened to Ry, and me, at the water park," offered Collin.
"Little bro, I don't think the police can go on what you feel. They need hard facts on which to base their investigation," responded the man.
"But, Bro … the way they said it was …well, it was as if they knew that it would happen. And besides, what they said to me after they tried to scam me for all that money, coupled with this, makes them even more suspect, Bro," argued Collin.
The two talked about it for a few more minutes. Each of them gave the other their reasons for or for not involving the police. In the end, they both agreed to disagree. Then, Collin asked, "Could we at least tell Dan? Let him hear me out and give him the last vote. What do you say, Bro?"
After dinner, they received a phone call from Mary. She told them how Ryan was doing and she wanted to tell Collin that his 'brother' wouldn't be at school until Wednesday. They talked some more about Ryan and how he was doing, when Ken asked Mary for a favor.
"Well, Ken, I guess it would all depend on how Ryan is feeling after school, but otherwise I think I could help you out," responded Mary. "But, what is so important that … well I guess it isn't any of my business why, but … yeah sure, Collin can come over and stay with us. That way we won't have to get a tractor trailer to lug over all the things my son has to use for his face and all."
"That would be great, Mary. I really appreciate this. This sort of opportunity only comes along once in a blue moon and you have to jump, when the iron is hot," teased Mr. Ken.
"I'll leave Wednesday afternoon, around one, and I plan to be back here Thursday night late. Actually, it will probably be more like very early Friday morning after we finish up and fly back," added Ken.
"Bro, you never said anything about that at dinner," spoke up Collin.
"True, but I didn't want to say anything until I knew Mary could handle you, if I were gone for a few days," teased Ken.
"What? I've never been any trouble, have I, Bro?" teased back the teenager.
"So, Bro, what are you going to do out there? I didn't know there was any amusement park out there," inquired Collin.
"Just because there isn't, doesn't mean the owner or owners don't live there. I got a phone call this afternoon with some information I need to jump on. If, I my timing is right, I may be able to get on top of things," answered his guardian.
"Can I go with you?" asked Collin.
"NO … er I mean no … it is almost the end of the school year and you need to study for your finals. Besides, this will be a fast out and back," replied Mr. Ken.
"Bro … ah, what are we going to do this summer? You know … are we going to travel any? Anything?" pressed Collin, trying to figure out what he will be doing this summer.
"Good question, Collin, I thought we would have sat down and talked about it over the weekend, but … well, things went up in smoke, so to speak. But let me give you an idea of what I was going to suggest. First, I thought we'd visit some of your bigger manufacturing plants. We could do maybe two a week for two or three weeks, and then come back and relax until after the 4
of July. Then we could visit the rest or maybe even fly off to Europe and see what there is over there. I hear there are a few amusement parks over there that are in financial trouble. Maybe, I could buy into them and get myself in position, to eventually. buy them. What would you like to do during the summer, 'little bro'?" said the teen's mentor.
Collin thought for a few moments and then replied, "Well … I thought you and I and my brothers could maybe … you know … take a trip again like we did to California, but this time … maybe to someplace different, like Florida and Disney World. Then, I thought we could all enjoy the Wave Runners and have a few beach parties and sleepovers and just have fun. Bro … I guess we could do some of what you said, too, but … well, I've never had this much fun, like this, my entire life, and I just want to enjoy everything I can," explained Collin.
"Hmmm … I guess we could mesh our ideas together and … well, I guess we could also include those other 'no-good brothers', too," razzed the man.
"You just wait until I tell my other brothers you called them 'no-goods'. My bet is you'll be a very sorry man after we get through with you," mocked the teen.
Wednesday came fast, and Collin had his bags packed and ready before he went to school, that morning. He had permission to drive to school and would stay with his 'mom' and brother, for the next two days.
At school, Ryan became the center of attention. Almost everyone, students and teachers alike, came up to him to say how sorry they were to hear how he was 'sucker punched' and not given a fair chance to defend himself.
Ryan's best friends formed all around him, to give him protection from too many questioners, and to show how much they cared for the teen.
Bill Shappell wasn't back to school, yet, but Raleigh Mitchell was.
By one o'clock, that same afternoon, Ken Thomas boarded his private jet and was headed to Phoenix. He was going to meet with Jules Diamond, later that evening, to get briefed on the person behind the spying on him and Collin, and Three Finger Cove.
School was long and hard for Ryan. He was totally exhausted when he returned home that evening, and he immediately went to lie down. Collin helped his 'mom' make dinner.
"Collin did Mr. Ken say what he was going to do out in Phoenix?' asked Mary Taylor.
"No, not really, he said he needed to meet with some people about … well, he never did say what it was. But, I do know he is interested in amusement parks and water parks and anything that has to do with them, and … well … what else would he be doing?" replied Collin.
"That's just it, Collin, he's never done this before, which I can remember. But then, of course, he didn't have you around before, so he came and went, more often, back then. So, I guess … he could have done this before, but I just wasn't aware of it," speculated Mary.
The two finished up preparing dinner, so Collin went upstairs to see how Ryan was doing.
"Hey, Ry" Collin said lightly to the resting teen, "are you awake?"
"Yeah … I'm okay. I didn't realize how tired one could get from being so bored at school," laughed Ryan. "Is dinner done yet?"
"Yeah, 'mom' and I just finished the final touches," answered Ryan's best friend.
Out in Phoenix, Ken Thomas settled into his suite and had an early dinner. His body clock was an hour ahead and he was hungry. It was about 7 PM when Jules Diamond knocked on his hotel door.
"Evening, Jules, I hope you have everything I need to confront our tormentor," said Mr. Ken, as Jules entered the luxurious hotel accommodations.
The two men talked for hours, reviewing all the information Jules had gathered. Ken finally had the name, and a photo, of the person watching him and Collin. Surprisingly, it was a woman. Jules had done his homework and provided Ken Thomas with a picture of a very beautiful, but older, (82 year old) woman. Mr. Diamond also knew the lady's schedule in and out. Needless to say, Ken was looking forward to meeting this mysterious woman, the next night at dinner. The thing was, the lady had no idea he would be dining with her.
Mary and her 'son's' watched some television before Ryan decided to head up to bed. The medications he took for the swelling in his face made him sleepy, so he headed to his bedroom, quickly followed by his 'brother'.
"And I don't want to hear any noise up there, boys," yelled Mary up the stairs at the two teenagers.
She got her reply a few seconds later, "Yes, MOTHER!" followed by some giggles.