The knock at the door came exactly at 7 AM, just as Mr. Ken had asked for. When the man opened the door, the Bellhop was waiting with the ordered morning breakfasts.
"Just put it over there," said Mr. Ken, as he pointed to an area for the Bellhop to wheel the cart.
As the guy placed the cart where he was told, he asked, "Will there be anything else, Sir?"
"No, thank you … and this is for your trouble," said Mr. Ken, as he handed the man a five dollar tip.
"Collin, breakfast is here. You even up yet?" teased Mr. Ken.
Collin yelled something back, so at least Ken knew the teen was awake. Then, figuring he'd wait on the lad to come out into the spacious dining area, so they could eat together, Mr. Ken grabbed the morning paper and sat in one of the very comfortable chairs.
The first thing he couldn't help notice was the morning headline.
ANOTHER ARREST IN
Mr. Ken quickly read through the paragraphs to find out who it was that got arrested. Then, seeing who it was, he yelled very loudly to Collin. "Collin, get in here! They arrested someone else in your parent's murders."
That's all it took for the lad to come running into the dining room completely naked, with just a towel hung off his shoulder.
"What? Who? Mr. Ken?" quickly asked the naked teenager.
"See if you can guess," teased Mr. Ken.
"I don't know. Maybe that Sullivan guy, the one Frank Hale wanted to run Wilkinson," replied Collin.
"Nope, guess again," smiled the man at the naked lad.
"Bro, I'm standing here naked, just tell me!"
"Okay, hold your … ah … ah, towel," laughed Mr. Ken. "It was Frank Hale!"
"FUCK YEAH!" screamed Collin. Then Collin realized what he just said and then said, "Sorry, Bro, it just came out!"
"That's okay 'lil bro', I agree with you."
"Is that why Bill didn't want to answer Grammy's question yesterday, and why he had to go talk with the judge?"
"Yes, I suppose so. My bet is he'll fill us in when we meet him at the courthouse. Now, finish up with you shower and get out here and eat."
Collin quickly went back to his en suite while Mr. Ken continued to read the article.
At the courthouse, as soon as Collin saw Bill Jackson, he went up to him and asked "Is that why you had to talk to the judge, yesterday?"
"What do you mean, Collin?"
"Come on, you know, you talked to the judge yesterday before lunch and you wouldn't tell us much about it and now, this morning, the paper says that Frank Hale was arrested in my parents murders," got out Collin in one breath.
Smiling all the time the question was being asked, Bill answered, "Yes! Now let's find a private spot so I can tell everyone what I know."
Collin entered the courtroom very happy that morning and with a smile on his face. He wasn't happy because he was going to testify that morning. It was because Frank Hale had been arrested and he learned from Mr. Jackson that Frank had always been under the radar as a suspect. It was his grandmother's revelation that Frank was 'taking care of everything" that he came to the top of the list.
"Counselor, call you next witness," directed the judge.
"I call Collin Wilkinson," announced Bill Jackson.
Collin got up and walked to the witness stand where the bailiff swore him in then told the teenager to take the stand.
"Collin," began Bill Jackson, "we are here, in this courtroom, for one thing and one thing only. And that is for the court to decide if you should reside with your grandmother or Mr. Thomas. We've heard from your grandmother and why she wants to have the court decide for you go and reside with her. And, we have heard from Mr. Thomas, your current guardian and why he is a better person to continue to be your guardian and have you to continue to reside at Three Finger Cove. Now, it is your chance to tell, not just the judge, but everyone, here today, why you want to live where you do. Take your time and begin telling us your thoughts when you are ready."
Collin sat in the witness stand and took a few moments to think about all the reason he wanted his Big Bro to continue to be his guardian. He had already done this a number of times in his mind, but now he was going to express his desires, and he wanted his thoughts to be clear and concise.
"Your Honor, I truly love my grandmother. She and I have a good rapport and we get along well together. But … she doesn't have a clue what I need in my life, today. After watching my parents being killed, in front of me, and then being kidnapped, I never thought I'd ever have to be in this situation. And, twice, I almost wasn't.
"All that time, I was held captive, I hoped and prayed that, when I got free, I would go back to my parents and things would be back to normal. Little did I know that those guys would try to kill me, and I would never see my parents, again! The night of that big storm, last year; they took me out on the lake, to kill me. I fought Mark when he tried to stab me. These marks on my arms are from the cuts I got, defending myself. Anyway, a big gust of wind came up and blew me overboard. I don't know how it happened, but when I came up to the surface he was gone, and so was the boat.
"I could see some lights in the distance, so I decided to try to swim to them and get help. I don't know how long I swam or how far. All I know is that I woke up in Mr. Ken's house and ever since then, he has taken care of me. I could never have been happier.
"Mr. Ken, my Big Bro, as I sometimes call him, has been the older brother I had always wished I had. I often told Grammy, that's the name I call my grandmother, that I wish I hadn't been an only child. We often talked about what it would be like to have an older or younger brother, even. Even my dad was an only child.
"From the very beginning, Mr. Ken always told me what was happening, so I wouldn't be caught off-guard when something came up from the FBI guys. Mr. Ken also got Ryan to come over to, sort of, be someone I could relate to, as he was the same age as I was. Since then, we've become best friends. That's what Mr. Ken has done for me. He's always looked forward, trying to anticipate things. Unfortunately, he still got shot trying to defend me and for that, I will be eternally grateful.
"When I lived with my parents, we never did up Christmas the way Mr. Ken did it last year. And, then, there were the New Year's Eve parties. He not only had one for the adults … he also had one for the teenagers I would be going to school with. Mr. Ken kept me busy, as I was totally involved with looking for the Holiday decorator and then finding the bands for the New Year's Eve parties. He also got Mr. Ashland to tutor me. That was so I could get caught up on 10th grade subjects and to get ready to take placement tests, so I could join Ryan as a sophomore at the high school.
"Mr. Ken also then became the Big Brother I always wanted. He treated me as his little brother and he was easy to talk to about stuff. I never had that with my dad, because he essentially ignored me after I turned thirteen. Mr. Ken would talk with me about anything and he'd let me watch him work on things. He never seemed to get tired of me being around.
"My grandmother, over there, had her lawyer make it seem that Mr. Ken went out of his way to make life harder than she would have done. Things happen to people, and it just seems for now it is my turn. The boy who attacked me, I guess you would say he was a loner, was berated by his own dad to be a 'bad guy. So, he joined up with this bunch of seniors and juniors and they talked him into attacking me and hurting me. Mr. Ken had nothing to do with that, but from that bad situation, ultimately came two wonderful drives that appealed for money to help out bullied kids in school, as well as new school board and hospital board members.
"During the campaigns for the school and hospital boards, Mr. Ken let me be involved. That is something I would never have been allowed to do, if I were still living with my parents, and I know that I won't be allowed if I have to live with my Grammy. They, my dad and my Grammy, always knew who the best person to be voted in was. Being with my current guardian I got the opportunity, not only to campaign for the people I supported, but I also got to be at the Canvassing of the votes. Mr. Ken let me learn from doing and not just by watching. I know I'll never get to do that again … if I have to live with my grandmother.
"Mr. Ken also took me on trips. That was another thing I rarely did with my parents, or even with my grandmother. The BEST trip I ever went on … was the Disney Cruise, Mr. Ken took me on during Spring Break. I had often asked my parents to take me, and when they told me why they couldn't, I'd repeatedly asked Grammy. But, she, too, never made the effort. My Big Bro found out that it was one thing I had wanted to do and HE made it happen!
"Yeah, I had two guys following me all over the ship, but they got their instructions wrong, and thought they were on some sort of 'espionage' assignment. But, I'll tell you this, that cruise was the most awesome thing I ever got to do. We met an awesome family on the trip, the Davis's – Cameron, Michelle, Colt and Jerry, who helped make the cruise a memorable one. With Grammy's age, my bet is we'll never do something like that, even though she does go on cruises, she'd never go on a ship that doesn't have gambling.
"My Grammy won't want to do teenager things like my Big Bro likes. We went to California to check out amusement parks and there, we met a group of teens that Mr. Ken brought out to the Cove for my 16th birthday. Mr. Ken even took me and Ryan and our 'little bro' Eric, out to San Diego when Aiden was severely beaten. Mr. Ken isn't afraid to drop what he is doing when something important to me comes up. Neither my dad nor my grandmother ever did that sort of thing for me.
"Your Honor … Mr. Ken has given me the type of life I have dreamed of. Even though he has a lot of money, he doesn't flaunt it, and neither does he let me act as if I have loads of money now that I have my inheritance, either. He's been showing me what it is like to be a normal teenager and he allowed me to be one. I have responsibilities, including taking care of our dog Chief, and I can have friends over for a BBQ or swim party, or even a sleepover. Those are things I NEVER got the chance to do when I lived at home, and I am sure I won't have that opportunity with my grandmother.
"My Grammy grew up in the late 1930s and during World War II, and she only knows about sacrifice and doing without. Sure, she has lived up until now and has heard about the internet and WiFi and iPads and laptops and tablets, but, the last I knew, she never used them, nor ever had a need for them, even though everything we do today is touched by each of those things in one way or another.
"Your Honor … it isn't that I don't love my Grammy, but she can't teach me or lead me into this new Century as well as Mr. Ken can? Grammy knows about the past, but Mr. Ken knows of today and the future. Grammy has no practical business experience, whereas Mr. Ken, not only has a business and computer degrees, but can also communicate in ten world languages.
"My Grammy only came around every so often and we had fun when she did, but what I need today is someone who can encourage me and teach me by example; someone who understands what a teenager is going through in today's environment. I also need someone who can help me to continue to deal with the trauma I've been through. Grammy wasn't there the past ten months and hasn't talked to me about anything that I've been through.
"Sure … I told her some of what happened to me, but it was Mr. Ken who shared my hurt as he, too, cried with me as he held me while I cried my heart out.
"Your, Honor … for me, the BEST person to continue to be my guardian is Mr. Ken. He knows what I went through, and he has helped me tremendously through it all. If you send me to live with my grandmother, I'll probably have to talk about it more with her and then she'll find me another child psychologist who'll make me go through that all over again. Your, Honor, I do not want to have to relive that part of my life over and over and over, because that's what I will be forced to do if I have to go back to the Wilkinson Estate and live again.
"I am settled in at Three Finger Cove. I'll be a junior in the fall, and I'll be more content and relaxed remaining at Three Finger Cove, and I'll have friends there. My school at my old home was not as progressive, nor did I have many friends there, because of the way my father treated me and anyone who attempted to get to know me.
"Lastly, Your, Honor, my grandmother had told me many times, not only to me personally but to me while others were present, that she would allow me to choose where I'd get to live. Then she goes and does what she is now doing. Your Honor, I truly believe this hearing has never been about me. It is about my grandmother and her having control and winning! She always attacked whoever got in her way, and usually made them 'pay' for what they did to her. She could never accept defeat and she even told me that once. She always wanted to get her way, no matter what. I saw her and my mother 'fight', not physically but verbally, about things my mom wanted to do for me, that my grandmother said was not what 'I needed'.
"I need to stay where I know I'll be able to grow mentally and physically, and where I can learn about my inheritance directly, since Mr. Ken is my personally appointed CEO. If I have to live with Grammy, she will immediately move to have me change my CEO and try to pull my strings so I'll do as she wants.
"My Grammy needs to hear this from me, and in front of everyone. And that is, if I am forced to live with her, she needs to understand that the HOUSE is MINE! My parents Wills gave IT to me, and they also said I could appoint whomever I want to run Wilkinson Enterprises, soon to be C.W.E. Inc., and it will remain Mr. Ken Thomas. That, I will not be her puppet, and if I am going to be on many of the Boards my parents were on, I will NOT do what they want me to do but I WILL do what I think is best for the organization. That, I also will NOT give ANY monies to any person, place, or thing that I personally have not checked out beforehand, and I believe should get said monies!
"I know, in MY heart, if I remain with Mr. Ken, he will allow me to be a part of the decision process and HE would never push me to do something I do not want to do. He has been there for me when I needed someone. All my grandmother could do was hire a bunch of investigators to see if Mr. Ken was worthy enough to be my guardian.
"My answer, if you hadn't already determined it in your own mind, to the question as to where I want to live is … I want to stay with Mr. Ken, my present guardian, for now, and until I no longer need a Big Brother and mentor."