The drive to Collin's 'other' home was quiet, too quiet. Collin sat there as silent as a mouse as the miles past by. Mr. Ken tried to engage him in conversation, but to no avail. As they turned into the driveway that led up to the front of the Wilkinson Estate, Collin began to cry.
"Bro, I don't want to do this! Please take me home!" pleaded the sixteen year old.
Ken Thomas stopped the car and pulled the lad to him and hugged him as best he could in the front area of the 2000 Ford Taurus SE he'd bought for Collin to practice driving in.
"Collin … Little Bro … this is something you are going to have to face, sometime in your life. The sooner you can face it, the sooner you can begin to fully heal from those horrible days of your past. I know it won't be easy, 'lil' bro, but … well, would you do this for me? I don't believe I've ever asked you to do something as important as this is, for you. We all have to face our demons, at one time or another, and the longer we put them off, the more they take control of us," lovingly said the young, twenty-four year old mentor.
The two sat there in the car, as Collin continued to lean into his Big Bro. After a few moments, Collin began to wipe his eyes and sat up trying to compose himself. Mr. Ken gave the teenager a few tissues so the lad could make himself presentable and in a few minutes the teen told his mentor, "Thanks, Bro, I know I have to get through this, but it's … it's just that I'm afraid how I'll feel … how I'll react as I enter that place … where my parents were gunned down. I know that I have to defeat those feelings going through me, but it's hard. … Will you go in with me? You know, to help me get through this and deal with it? I really think I need you now, more than ever, Bro. Can you do that with me?"
"Collin, I'll tell you what. I'll go up the steps with you, and … I'll wait outside as you go into the foyer. Your grandmother said she changed the area, so maybe; just maybe, going through that entry today won't be what you feel it will be. Does that sound okay with you?" replied Mr. Ken.
Collin took a few moments before he replied, "I … I'll try it, Mr. Ken, but … but, I'm not going to guarantee that I'll be able to stay inside there, by myself. Wou … would you consider coming in after me, after about ten or fifteen seconds, when I go in? I … I really may need you then, Bro! Cou … would you do that, Bro?"
"Yes, Collin, that sounds like a very good compromise. What do you say I continue driving up to the front of the house, now?" responded the man.
Collin gave a slight nod of his head and Mr. Ken put the car into "D" and the vehicle slowly moved forward to the end of their trip.
When the car stopped at the front of the estate house, Collin had hoped that his grandmother, someone, would have come out, and to make his going through that door easier. But that was not what happened. The two exited the Ford Taurus, and Collin waited until his Big Bro had come along side of him before he began walking up the five steps to the front door.
"Now, you … you promise you'll come in right after I go in, Mr. Ken?" the very scared teenager asked his 'older brother'.
"Yes, 'lil' bro, I promise, I'll come in a few seconds after you enter, through that door. You need to face this by yourself, or you'll forever be afraid to face your fears, ever! Now take a deep breath and let it out, and then take another and breathe normally and then walk through that door. I know you can get through this. Have faith in yourself. I KNOW you can do this!" encouraged Mr. Ken.
Reluctantly, Collin opened the door and hesitantly walked inside, with his eyes closed, and then instinctively closed the heavy front door behind him. Collin's unstated fear was he'd see his parents still lying there, in the foyer, which was his reason for closing his eyes beforehand.
After a few seconds, the teen slowly opened his eyes only to find that his biggest fear did not materialize. Collin happily found that his parents were not still there and that the entrance foyer had indeed been changed. It was no longer filled with the dark colors of before and was now a much more inviting, light colored motif and furnishings.
As the teen looked around, Mr. Ken entered the foyer. He deliberately waited a full two minutes before he entered the foyer, and instantly expected his little brother to come to him with tears flowing. When the lad didn't immediately come crying to him, he was very happy for the teenager. The man then watched the teen as he inspected the area and then opened the closet door and look inside. Mr. Ken figured Collin was looking for the stick his father once kept there and not finding it, the lad let out a sigh of relief.
Collin turned around and suddenly saw his Big Bro. "Bro, I didn't hear you come in. It … this place … it isn't anything like I expected it to be," announced the teenager.
"What do you mean, young man? What did you expect to see when you entered a few minutes ago?" asked Mr. Ken.
"A few minutes … are you serious?" excitedly asked Collin.
"Yes, it has been almost five minutes now, since you entered this foyer. … Can you tell me what you truly expected to find when you came in here? By your reaction, it has to be totally different from what you thought you'd see," stated Mr. Ken.
Collin stood there for a few moments before answering. "Mr. Ken, I mean Bro, I … I thought at first I … I'd see my parents … lying here on the floor where … where they were when … when I was pulled away from them and taken away. I had that in my mind, ever since Grammy asked me to come back to visit here. It's all … all that I could see in my mind … was my parents that night as they laid here on the floor. (Collin pointed out to his Big Bro where his mom and dad laid that night.)
"I … I know you all told me that, that they'd been taken away and buried, but … but I just couldn't get that scene out of my mind. When I entered, I had my eyes closed. I was afraid of what I'd see. When I did finally open them, I found that … that this place is totally different than when I was last here, and that my parents are really NOT here. I am so happy now that … that my fears were not real!"
Mr. Ken walked over to his little bro and gave him a slight hug for facing his fears. Then, as the two continued to look around the foyer, grandmother Frankenberg entered.
"Collin, Colley I am SO happy you are here. Can I get a hug from my grandson? Thank you so much, Mr. Ken for bringing him," said Miss Vickey, as she got that hug.
"Colley … what do you think about the changes we made? Your Uncle Andy and I felt that we needed to make this place a brighter and more up-to-date home than it was before. You'll not only see changes here, in the foyer, but all throughout the house. We aren't finished yet, but the changes are remarkable, if I do say so myself. Now, how about you two get your bags and let me show you to your rooms. Then, I'll give you both the grand tour."
Grammy got the two gentlemen settled in their respective rooms, which were actually across the hall from each other. She then proceeded to show the two newcomers all the changes that were made to the lower floors. As they entered the study, they were caught by surprise, as there sat Uncle Andy, drinking his favorite wine.
"Uncle Andy!" exclaimed Collin, as he ran to his Uncle and gave the man a big hug. "Thank you for all the changes you and Grammy made to my house! I … I was afraid to come through that front door when we arrived, but … but, you made it so different that my worst fears didn't happen. I owe you and Grammy a big hug!" And with that, Collin proceeded to give his 'uncle' and his Grammy another great big hug.
Since it was still early afternoon, Grammy served some light hors de oeuvre's to her guests. They all made some light talk until Collin asked about his parents' graves.
Grammy and Andy looked at one another, to see who would answer, but since Uncle Andy was responsible for those arrangements, he answered the lad's question.
"Collin, your Grandmother wasn't here for … well, to make those arrangements, so I took it upon myself to take care of … of them; your mom and dad. I knew there was a family burial plot, so I made the arrangements for the mausoleum to be opened and their caskets placed inside after the viewing and funeral. I … I … well we couldn't wait, too long … you know … to bury them … so that is what we did. I hope you will be okay with that, Collin. It was a rough time for all of us, with you missing … and your grandmother … no-where to be found," the very hesitant Andrew Marshall explained.
"Can I … err, we go and see where they are?" asked Collin.
"Sure, my boy, I don't see why not," quickly replied Andy, before looking to Vickey to get her ideas, or feelings, about that.
"Thank you, Uncle Andy, where can we find them?" asked the orphaned teenager.
After a lengthy explanation and hastily drawn road maps, Collin and his mentor, Mr. Ken, soon found themselves, at a very large and ornate cemetery, where his parents were to be found. They drove almost to the back of the cemetery where they found a mausoleum with the Wilkinson name carved in marble in the front, at the top of a large separate building.
Collin opened the door leading into a large room. The two visitors walked down the hall, going past numerous Wilkinson's, until they reached the place where Charlotte and James Wilkinson rested, for all eternity.
Mr. Ken allowed Collin to approach the two crypts alone, so the lad could be alone with his thoughts, as he viewed the final resting place of his slain parents.
The man stood back as the teen stood in front of the ornate panels, each with the names of his mother and father, placed to seal the coffins inside their crypts. After about five minutes, Mr. Ken began to hear a muffled sound and couldn't begin to figure out what it was and where it emanated. Then the man realized it was his 'lil' bro and so he gently walked to the teen and placed his arms around the softly crying teenager. With that, the lad turned and melted into the waiting man's arms. It was then that Collin began a full outcry that far exceeded any crying he ever did for his parents before.
Mr. Ken just stood there, holding onto the weeping lad, as Collin continued to cry his heart out. The man could tell, by the boy's actions, that this was the hardest thing the teenager had ever encountered in his entire life. It took Collin almost twenty minutes to cry himself out and to then finally say his goodbyes to his father and then his mother. As the two walked out the door, Collin stopped, turned around towards his parent's crypts and blew them both a kiss. The teen then leaned into his Big Bro and let the tears fall again.
Collin went directly to his room after they returned to the Wilkinson Estate. He did not come down for dinner that evening.