Mr. Ken knew the lake's water was still a bit cold, for that time of year, so he loaded the boys up, after their late Mexican brunch, and took them to the local dive shop, to get them all some wet suits.
"Mr. Ken … why do we need to wear these rubber things?" asked Eric.
"Well, Eric, these will help us keep warmer and thus allow us to stay out on the lake longer," answered the man.
"But how does it do that?" enquired the boy some more.
The salesman heard the exchange between the two, so he went over and tried to explain it to the younger boy. "You see, when you go out into the lake's relatively much cooler waters right now, you get cold pretty quick. The wetsuit provides a layer to insulate or slow the heat loss from your body to the water. It is called a wetsuit because water gets in next to the body, and is heated by the body. That now warm water helps keep you warm, too, so you can enjoy being out on the lake longer. Are you guys going to water ski?" asked the man.
"No … Mr. Ken here has a Jet Ski that holds 3 people and my big brother's got WaveRunner's for their birthdays, so we're gonna ride them all weekend, and get them broken in," quickly offered Eric.
Frank and Mr. Ken sort of chuckled at the boy's excited explanation and enthusiasm, but quickly recovered and got back to sizing Eric, for the wetsuit and a safety vest. Ryan had already taken Collin to get their wetsuits and vests.
"Bro … now that we have the WaveRunner's, are we going to get anything to tow? You know … something to pull behind us like an inner tube or ski tube so we can have fun that way!" asked Ryan.
Frank reminded the lads they needed the size of a 3-person machine so they could safely tow – a driver, observer then the towee. The salesman cautioned them to be very careful, as making turns with the WaveRunner's, or any watercraft such as that, made it difficult to safely turn, and many times the person being towed gets dumped. The teens said they would heed his warnings and the group of four was off.
When the four finally got back to the Cove, they had, what felt like, tons of stuff for them to use when they got out on the lake. The boys headed upstairs to put on their wetsuits while Mr. Ken went to his room to change.
"Don't we have to put our swim suits on under these wetsuits?" asked Eric, as he saw his older 'brother's totally strip down and slip into their wetsuit.
"No, not really, Eric," Ryan began to answer. "You can't see thru the wetsuit and that entire swim suit underneath will chafe you, and you'll be very sore later. Come on, now … get that thing off and get into your wetsuit. We already know what you look like without all those clothes on," laughed Ryan and Collin.
Eric quickly shucked off his suit and began to slip into his wetsuit. Then he looked over at his two 'brothers' and laughed "I might not be able to see through your wetsuits … but, but I can sure see where your peni, err dicks and balls are!" laughed Eric.
That made Collin and Ryan looked down at themselves and they laughed, too. The two teens went over to the long door mirror and admired themselves. "Well, I guess we have grown some, too, haven't we, Col?" That made the two teens laugh. "Come over here Eric, and see what you got showing," teased Ryan.
Chief beat the boys down to the beach. There, Mr. Ken had the 3 watercraft, so he could go over the starting and safety procedures with the three lads. Ryan knew that stuff from last year, but agreed he needed a refresher.
"Eric, I want you to pay close attention, too. You might not be legally allowed to drive one by yourself, but, if there is ever an emergency, I want you to be able to start these things, and go for help. You with me on that, young man?" seriously asked the man.
Eric smiled at hearing that, and answered, "Yeah, I will, you bet!"
Ken made the teens practice using their WaveRunner's at slower speeds, while making turns and circles and such. He wanted them to feel very comfortable using their Runner's. He wanted them to feel real confident, and in control, on their new 'toy'.
The four then had a blast the rest of the afternoon. Ken gave Eric the opportunity to drive, while he sat on the back and the ten year old did surprisingly well, seeing that there was lots of weight on the Jet Ski.
Uncle Andy arrived around six that night, just in time for Momma Maria's wonderful cooking. He was closely followed by Bill and Mary and Judy. The boys and Mr. Ken, by that time, were tired, too, but were still hyped up from all the fun they had that afternoon, and they dug into their food, as if it were their last meal.
Conversation that night at the table was lively and jovial. The boys told Andy how much fun they had, especially Eric and Collin. Those two had never ridden WaveRunner's before, and that was all they could talk about. Andy took note how much Collin smiled and how animated he was. The older man could never remember the teen being so much 'in life' as he was at that moment.
"Collin, I take it you really enjoyed yourself, today," said Collin's Uncle Andy.
"Uncle Andy, you have no idea. I can't even remember having that much fun, at one time … ever! The WaveRunner's have so much power under you, what a rush. It was even better than driving … and I totally enjoy driving my, err, well Bro's car. I hope the rest of the weekend stays as nice as it was today; so we can enjoy being out there some more," happily responded Collin.
"Ryan, what, if anything, did the doctor say about you being out on the WaveRunner's? Did you have any trouble?" a curious Andy asked.
"Well, the doctor said I was to be awfully careful not to get ANY water up my nose. He suggested that I NOT do this, but hey, I'm a teen, I got to do it," laughed Ryan. "The doc did give me a mask, of sorts, to help direct the water away from my nose. I think it worked pretty good. I have it drying, now, so I can use it again tomorrow."
When the group finished eating, they retired to the Study, in order to talk about recent events.
"Collin, might you want to listen to this first, then decide if you want the others to hear this?" carefully asked the teen's mentor and guardian.
"No, I think we all should hear it together. That way, we'll all get the same perspective and then … well, we can hear what Bill has to say, and then Uncle Andy," answered Collin.
The eight listened to the almost 3 hour tape, by fast forwarding through the dull and boring chewing and drinking and small talk going on during dinner. They did listen intently to the beginning, when Ken introduced himself and the two of them agreeing to have dinner together. Then, they carefully listened at the end when Collin's grandmother said something important, like giving Collin the chance to choose where he wanted to live.
When the tape ran out, it was absolutely quiet in the Study. Only the breathing of the inhabitants could be heard. Then Uncle Andy broke the silence.
"That was interesting!"
Bill Jackson went first and gave Collin his thoughts of what it all meant. In the end, Bill said that is was still going to be up to the courts to finally put an end to the speculation and keep people from second guessing, although they will anyway …, because that is what people do.
Uncle Andy had almost the same take on the eventual outcome, except he focused on Vickey's real intent, and how she has acted in the past.
"Victoria is known for getting what she wants. It would not surprise me that when she comes here Monday, she WILL have in her possession a Court Order saying Collin is to be placed in her custody, immediately. Knowing her, she will have Sheriff Deputies stationed close by, and on call, and with just one phone call, they would descend on this place like the plague. Now, Ken, where is that damn wine I told Collin to tell you to have ready for me," revealed Andrew Marshall, as he then got up and walked out of the Study.
The Study got quiet again. Chief got up and walked over to Collin and put her head in his lap wanting her ears scratched. She knew her boy was hurting right then, and she needed to bring some happiness to him.
"Bill, what do you think about what Andy had to say?" asked Ken.
"He knows her better than anyone here, so my bet is we need to act accordingly," replied Bill Jackson, Ken's personal lawyer.
Then, all of a sudden, Eric stood up and yelled, "I thought you said you weren't going to leave me. I hate YOU, I HATE you!" Then the distraught boy ran out of the Study. Chief quickly followed behind along with Collin. Ryan was going to go, too, but his mom told him that Collin needed to handle this himself.
Collin found the crying youngster on the bed he uses when he spends the night. Chief was standing right beside him, just looking on. Collin sat down on the bed and rubbed his hand all over the still crying boy's back trying to calm him as he had done earlier that day.
In a little while, Collin lay down beside his 'little brother' and began to softly talk to him
"Eric … 'little brother' I'm sorry you feel that I am going to leave you. What I said earlier is true … that I am not going anywhere, at least not just yet. You heard what Bill and Uncle Andy said … that we will eventually have to leave the courts to decide. Eric … I don't want to leave here … ever, and if I have to … I will fight like the dickens to stay. … Eric … I still LOVE YOU, by the way!"
Eric lay there a short while taking in what his 'Big Brother' just said. Then the boy sat up and hugged Collin hard.
"Collin … I … I'm sorry I said that I hate you," cried Eric. "I didn't really mean it, honest. I listened to your grandmother and the way she talked. I just know she is going to take you away on Monday, I just know it!"
"Now, now, Eric … yes, I heard what Grammy said, and what Bill and Uncle Andy said, too … but if she tries that, come Monday, I will fight her. I will use ALL my money to try to do what Mr. Ken and Uncle Andy told me about, and that is to be on my own. … But, well, I owe her the opportunity to talk to me and … well, see if she can convince me to go back home with her, like my parents wanted," explained the teenager to the young boy.
"I … I know … kinda … but what about me, if you do have to go back? Will I ever see you again? I don't want to lose one of my 'big bros' I still DO love you. I just don't want you to go away!" Eric couldn't hold it in any longer and he began to cry some more.
Collin hugged the boy some more, and even Chief came over and licked at the youngster's face. That act of kindness made Eric reach out and scratch behind Chief's ears and then he stopped crying.
The two 'brothers' made their way back to the Study where Eric ran to his mom and hugged her tight.
"Did you and your big brother work things out?" asked Judy Turner, Eric's adoptive mom.
Eric pulled back some and tuned to look over at Collin and then smiled. He turned back to his mom and said, "Yeah!"
The boys decided to go down to the Theater and pick a movie to watch and get comfortable. The adults stayed in the Study, there, they discussed the pros and cons of the possibilities for Monday's visit, by Grammy. Uncle Andy was well on his way to getting drunk, like he said he would.
As she was getting ready to leave, Judy thought she would go down to the Theater to get her son, to go home with her. Boy was she ever wrong. Eric fought tooth and nail to stay and, in the end, Judy relented. She realized these might be the last few days her son would ever have with the teenager her son looked up to, so much. Judy cried as she drove home that night, knowing how much her son 'loved' Collin Wilkinson, as his big brother.
Everyone prayed that night that V. Susan Frankenberg would NOT take Collin home with her on Monday, but would indeed allow her grandson to choose where he wanted to live.