Collin closed the front door, after the last most important people in his life had departed, and looked at his mentor and said, “It’s just us, now, Bro!”
Mr. Ken grabbed Collin and hugged the teen tightly to himself, not wanting to let the young man go.
“I knew it would be hard … but I had no idea that it was going to be this difficult,” said the crying man, as he held the boy.
“I know, Bro, I know!” responded an equally tearful Collin.
The two then went up to Collin’s bedroom and began the process of packing his things into boxes.
After they had packed for a couple of hours, Collin remarked, “I didn’t think I had accumulated this much stuff.”
“Yep, it doesn’t take long to gather up stuff, that means something to you, as you live your life,” answered Mr. Ken. “What say we stop for now, and grab a bite to eat?”
After they ate, the two decided to go down to the Theater and watch a movie like they used to do. And, just as the used to do, they didn’t see much of the movie as they talked about Collin’s future into the night.
It was midnight when the duo woke up and said their goodnights. They each went their separate ways but a half hour later, Collin was at the man’s bedroom, knocking at the door and asking if he could stay with him “one last night?’”
The two sleep a fitful night as both of then knew that the next day was the last day the teen was going to be at Three Finger Cove.
Momma Maria had a wonderful Mexican breakfast for the two when they awoke for that last, long day. Maria had a difficult time holding back her tears, but soon was overwhelmed by the knowledge that that was going to be the LAST breakfast she would fix for the teen and she ran from the kitchen with tears flowing like rivers. She, too, had come to ‘love’ the lad as everyone else had, and she knew the immenseness of what that day meant.
The two, man and teen, continued to pack Collin’s things for his move back to the Wilkinson Estate. Before long, the boxes were packed and moved to the foyer.
“Bro, how am I going to take all these boxes with me?” asked Collin. “And, how am I going to get to my other home?”
The comment of ‘my other home’ wasn’t lost on Mr. Ken. He smiled when he heard the teen say that’ as it was then he knew that Collin had looked at the Cove as his ‘real’ home.
“I was thinking of that, too,” said Mr. Ken. “The judge didn’t say how and your grandmother … she hasn’t called, to offer any assistance, so I guess it is upon to us to figure out how we are to get you back to your ‘other’ home.”
The two walked into Mr. Ken’s Study and Collin sat back, and watched, as Mr. Ken made a few phone calls.
“There … Derrick will be by around 3 o’clock, to pick you up. That should give us plenty of time to pack the boxes into the vehicle. Then, he is driving you over to Wilkinson,” explained the lads Big Bro.
“You want to get something to eat?” asked Mr. Ken.
“Not really … I just don’t feel hungry,” answered Colin.
“Come on; let’s see what Momma has waiting for us. You don’t want to disappoint her, now, do you? I bet she’s made a special lunch for us to send you off.”
“Yeah, I guess not. Let’s go see if she is ready for us!”
The two walked into the kitchen, expecting a huge, prepared meal but only found some simple Mexican foods, the ones that Collin had always raved about.
“I knows yous don’ts like to drives on a too fulls a stomachs so’s I made some simples tings Collin likesa froma me’s. I hopea you boths likes,” said Momma Maria.
There, on the table, sat hot Beef Enchiladas, and flour tortillas and beef fajitas with Guacamole, Salsa, diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese for toppings, along with Churros for desert. It wouldn’t be an overly ‘heavy’ meal, unless they ate and ate, but it would be filling and satisfying.
After the meal was over, Collin went to Momma Maria and hugged her hard and thanked her for everything she had done for him and his friends, when they were there. He told he her would never, ever forget her. Then, in front of his Big Bro, “If you ever get tired of working for this, slave driver, you can come and work for me.”
Mr. Ken then grabbed the boy and gave him a noogey he’d never forget.
Momma Maria laughed at their antics, but knew it would be very different around there when the teenager was no longer around. Then, she cried for the second time that day and hurried off so they wouldn’t see her cry.
When the two saw Maria leave the kitchen, they hugged one another and then Collin said, “Bro, I think I’ll go upstairs and take a shower and change into some clean clothes.”
“Okay!” was all Mr. Ken said. Then he, too, decided to take a shower and change, as well.
It was almost 2:30 PM when the man and teen met back in the Study.
You sure do clean up, well,” teased Mr. Ken.
“Yeah, I see you washed behind you ears and put on some deodorant, too,” teased back Collin.
It was quiet for a while and then Mr. Ken said, “Let’s go down to the Great Room and sit together until Derrick gets here.”
The two sat together on the sofa they shared back at Christmas time. This time they both knew this would be the last time for that, for quite some time.
“Bro … after all these months here, there is BUT one thing … you know, that it was that … well, that one thing that changed my life for the better. For all that you’ve done for me these last ten months, that there is ONLY one thing that I can put my mind on that I can say, without a doubt, was the biggest thing that changed my life. Do you know what it was, Bro?”
“Geez, Collin, after ten months of being together, and all the things we did together, or I’ve done for you, there has to be hundreds of things … that it could be. So, NO … I really don’t know which one it could ever be,” replied Mr. Ken.
“LOVE, Bro … is what you did for me! You loved me like no one else has ever LOVED me before. Yeah, my real mom loved me, but it was in a ‘mother’s’ way. But, you …you LOVED me … like a father should love his Son. You not only helped me, in the beginning, to heal from my injuries, but you also helped me to heal from the horrors of what I had to endure. Then, you held me over and over when I cried about whatever it was that had affected me, especially when I grieved for my dead parents.
“Yes, Bro… it was the LOVE … that you FREELY gave to me … without me ever having to ask for it. The trips to California were great and the Disney Cruise is something I will cherish forever, but it is your LOVE that will forever remain in my heart, for always and forever. I LOVE YOU, Bro, Mr. Ken. I truly love you for everything you’ve done for me and much, much more.”
When Collin finished his little speech, he threw himself into Mr. Ken as they sat on the sofa and together they cried and cried. It wasn’t until the doorbell rang, and Chief’s barking, that they separated and hugged again.
The three of then loaded the small van Derrick rented in order to move all of Colin’s things to his ‘old’ home. The trio then took a break and sat and drank some cold, iced tea as they relaxed in the Study.
“My guess is ... this is the first time you’ve ever been in the house, let alone my Study, isn’t it, Derrick?” asked Mr. Ken.
“Yes, sir, it is and has,” replied Derrick. “I could get used to this, though.” Then he laughed.
Noticing the time, the three finished their drinks and headed out to the van.
“Mr. Ken … why don’t you ride with us, Derrick can bring you back here, when he returns?” somewhat begged Collin.
“Collin, my little brother, I think it would be best … that, when you arrive at the Wilkinson Estate, you show your grandmother that you are arriving as if you had never left. I want you to walk into the house with your head held high and with the confidence of a young, adult man; a young, responsible man who no longer needs his ‘big bro’, or anyone, for that matter, to protect him, and show him what he needs to do.
“You need to show your grandmother … that you are no longer that scared ‘little boy’ whom she last saw a few months before her son, and daughter-in-law, were gunned down. You need to show her you have grown, not only in stature, but in mind, as well.
“Collin, I want you to go back to your ‘old’ home and not only take control of it … but your life, as well. Be respectful of your Grammy, as your parents would expect you to be but don’t be her lackey, or let her take over your life. Learn the things she wants you to learn, but make changes where you have the authority, and the will. Be your OWN man, Collin. Continue to study hard and make new friends and have parties for them as you had here.
“But, most of all, I want you to HONOR you mother and your father … and be the BEST SON anyone ever knew. Honor their legacy and continue their great works they fostered. Change what you see needs to be changed, but build your own legacy for you sons and daughters.
“I love you ‘lil’ bro … and I always will. Thank you … for being the ‘little’ brother I always wanted.”
Collin fell into Mr. Ken’s open arms and hugged the man as he hugged him back.
Derrick watched it all with tears flowing steadily down his cheeks.
Then, it was time for Collin to enter the van and do what the judge had ordered.
As the van drove out the Cove’s main gate, Ken waved and Chief barked their last goodbyes to the boy who had brought LIFE to Three Finger Cove.