Castle Roland

Chapter 143

Posted: 24 Dec 14

It was now two weeks since that "Son of a Bitch" Victoria Susannah 'Susan' Frankenberg "Grammy" Wilkinson had court papers served on Kenneth Richard Thomas, seeking his dismissal as Collins Guardian, and that she be appointed as Collin's guardian as stipulated in both of his parent's Last Wills and Testaments.

Ken and Bill Jackson, along with Stewart Russell, David Jackson and Uncle Andy, worked feverishly to build a defense against Grammy's assertions that Mr. Ken Thomas was an improper influence on her grandson, that he had no experience in child rearing and nurturing and that his appointment as the boy's legal guardian was improper and illegal.

Personally seeing and reading the legal papers his Grammy had served on his Big Bro was devastating on Collin, at first. But, after a few days, his Big Bro, Mr. Ken, was able to get the teenager into a totally better mood, by explaining how they would do everything they could possibly do to thwart the 82 year old grandmother's assertions about the man.

Those last two weeks weren't all work and 'NO' play. Mr. Ken made sure that Collin was allowed to be the teenager he was, and to do what teens do to have fun and stay busy. Collin had previously asked if he was ever going to get to accompany his 'little brother', Eric, to either or both of the local amusement parks the youngster had Season Passes to.

The first place that Collin accompanied Eric and Ms. Judy to was SeaWorld of San Antonio. The trip to SeaWorld was Eric's time to shine, as he got to play tour guide for his 'big brother', since the teen had never been there before. Ms. Judy just sat back and watched and let her son make all the decisions as to where they would go first, and at which times they would watch the different animal shows.

Collin thoroughly enjoyed the entire day he spent with Eric and Ms. Judy. As a matter of fact, he felt as though it was just he and Eric together that day, as Ms. Judy stayed in the background as Eric took Collin to the many different parts of the Park.

Ryan wasn't a part of that first trip. Mr. Ken had asked him to stay behind, so his 'other brothers' could have some time together just in case things didn't work out as they planned.

A few days after that trip, Ms. Judy took Eric and Collin, and this time, Ryan, to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. She'd been to Fiesta Texas three other times with Eric, and she knew the place was safe. She also knew the two teens would never let Eric out of their sight and would take care of the smaller boy, no matter what. So, Ms. Judy had taken some papers to work on, so the three 'brothers' could go off on their own. The three lads spent the entire day riding all the rides, enjoying the large water park, and then, at the end of the day, the wonderful fireworks display.

After those two trips, Mr. Ken wasn't about to be left out of the 'fun and play' spirit during those two disheartening weeks, so he made plans to do some things with the boys, too.

He took all three 'brothers' over to Houston, for an Astros baseball game, but before the game, the four got to take a tour of Minute Maid Park. That trip was exciting for the three boys as neither had ever been to a professional baseball game, let alone visit parts of the stadium many people never get to see.

That trip didn't end there. Mr. Ken had also made arrangements for them to stay at the Kemah Boardwalk Hotel, over on Galveston Bay. There, the boys got to go to Kemah's mini-amusement park and ride the rides, including the wooden rollercoaster, the Boardwalk Bullet, but also on a boat called The Boardwalk Beast.

When the four went to ride 'The Beast', they approached the dock and saw the boat filled with loads of seats. The three of them figured they would be in for a boring 45 minute ride out on Galveston Bay. But, boy, were they ever in for the shock of their lives, when the boat actually got out on the Bay.

The trip out and away from the dock and through the entrance channel was slow and boring, just as the boys thought it would be. But it wasn't long before the Boardwalk Beast began to pick up speed and take off and away from the other channel traffic. Before long, the Boardwalk Beast was really flying through the water and then began to make fast, tight turns that caused small sprays of water to cascade all over the boat and onto its passengers.

In the beginning, the three 'brothers' all thought that the spray of water was just a fluke. They figured it was the quick turn into the wind which caused that to happen, and that it wouldn't happen again. WRONG! The Boardwalk Beast was called that, because its job was to take as many as 140 passengers out onto the Bay and, at speeds up to 40 miles per hour, make tight turns, right and left, so that the water did indeed spray up and over the boat and onto its riders. It wasn't until the boat crew began to play some wild music and the boat began to jinx and jerk, along with the beat, that they then knew they were in for a soaking ride they wouldn't forget for a long time.

Collin and Ryan both yelled at their Big Bro that he knew that was going to happen, and that he deliberately brought them out there to get soaking wet. Mr. Ken just smiled back and said one word, "Yep! So, what's your point?" By then, it was too late as they were all getting soaked.

Eric hadn't cared, he was getting totally drenched. He just sat there totally enjoying the fast and jerky ride along with the sprays of water in his face. 'So what, that I'm getting soaked,' thought the young lad. Then he yelled over the sound of the huge boat motors, "Mr. Ken, this is FUN!"

The Beast stayed out on the Bay for about 25 minutes, constantly changing direction, so that the water would spray all over its occupants. Unfortunately, all good things do come to an end, and before they all knew it, the Boardwalk Beast headed back to the dock. Along the way, the teens thanked their Big Bro for taking them on that ride, as it was "Thee Best' ride they could ever remember being on.

Once they got back on dry land, Eric gave Mr. Ken a great big hug. "Thank you, Mr. Ken, for bringing me on this awesome adventure. I don't think my mom would have allowed me to do something like that, so getting to do that with you and my Big Brothers was awesome. Thanks, again!" Eric hugged the man once again.

"Yeah, thanks, Bro," began Ryan, "that was a great ride even though you didn't warn us that we'd be getting totally drenched!"

Everyone laughed and then Mr. Ken said, "How about we all go get a shower and some dry clothes on, and then we come back out here and ride that wooden rollercoaster, again. That Boardwalk Bullet might only be 96 feet high but is sure packs a wallop. I love the speed that thing has and those sharp turns. Those guys did a great job with that coaster, even though they only had an acre of land to put it on."

That particular trip lasted another two days, as Mr. Ken took the boys down to see a WWII submarine and destroyer located in Seawolf Park near Galveston, Texas. The boys got to walk through the World War II submarine, the USS Cavalla, and see how the 60-man crew had to live. They got to see the torpedo rooms, the men's bunks and the restroom called 'the head'. The kids all said they'd have hated to have to use that thing as it looked medieval to them. Other tourists who heard them all lightly laughed at the three lads.

Their small group then traveled over to Moody Gardens where there are three pyramids that house an aquarium, a tropical rainforest, and some science-oriented exhibits that were on display at the time of their visit.

The boys thoroughly enjoyed the entire complex, because they again got to see some things they never remembered seeing before. Their first stop was the aquarium and they were totally mesmerized by the penguins, sharks, and over 8,000 species of fish and invertebrates and more.

Their second stop was the tropical rainforest. That pyramid was 10 stories high and held specimens from Asia and Africa and featured many different animals. There was also a butterfly area where the lads got to not lonely feed the butterflies but also allow them to alight on their fingers which gave the boys, and especially Eric, an awesome thrill. The only thing they did not enjoy about that pyramid was the fact that Moody Gardens has to keep the temperature at 95 degrees Fahrenheit and 95 % humidity at the same level the plants and animals lived in, which made it quite uncomfortable for them. All Mr. Ken told them when they complained to him was to "suck it up!" Again, other tourist laughed at the boys.

Their third stop was the Discovery Pyramid. There, they were told that the pyramid changed its displays quite often but at that time the lads got to see displays and exhibits explaining about the bones of the body and how doctors use x-ray machines to determine if a bone is broken, or not.

Altogether, the four 'brothers' had a wonderful day full of history, fish stories and discovery. By the time the four returned to their hotel rooms, they were all ready for dinner and then another ride on the Boardwalk Bullet.

On the last day of their trip, the four traveled north to visit the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site and the battleship USS Texas.

With them all living in Texas, Mr. Ken felt it was fitting they all visited those sites so the boys could get their 'arms' around the history that was located there.

The first stop was the San Jacinto Battleground where Texas won its independence from Mexico. It was there where General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna, of the Mexican army, was defeated by the Texian Troops General under Sam Houston. They all took the elevator to the top of the observation tower and got a commanding view of the entire battle area.

The next stop for the day was the Battleship, USS Texas. The boys had seen the big black ship as they entered the San Jacinto State Historical Park and they also could see it from the observation tower and were itching to go there, and now they were.

Their guardian and mentor paid for the four of them to enter the battleship and soon they were walking up the walkway to the main deck. First stop was the aft battery that had quad, 40mm guns. The boys took turns sitting in the gunners' seat and turning the hand-crank and moving the gun around on its pivot. The lads seemed to be awe struck over the fact that they could do that and not get into trouble.

From there, the four tourists followed their noses and walked around the huge historic ship. They spent about four hours walking all over the ship and seeing sights such as the bakery, the barbershop, the men's bunks stacked five high, the officer's galley, sick bay, and the soda fountain area, filled with actual cigarettes, and gum and other items from the 1940's. They walked all over that 'boy magnet' battleship and saw everything they could see. They also got to climb as high on the superstructure as they were allowed to go. They all came away with a more profound understanding of what the men had to endure during World War II.

The drive back to Three Finger Cove, the next day, was full of conversation by everyone. They each took their turn telling what they thought was the Best and Worst of the trip. When they reached the Cove, two moms, and one dog, were anxiously awaiting the return of their 'men'.

The reunion was a happy one and sad one. It was happy because the boys just returned from a trip of a lifetime. It was a sad one because soon, the hearing would begin to determine if Collin would remain at the Cove or whether he would be forced to go live with his 'son of a bitch' grandmother.

Ryan didn't get to spend the night, that time. But Collin did get to sleep with his Big Bro once again.

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