Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Charles
Book III

by Chowhound

In Progress

Chapter 4

Posted: 15 Sep 16

Three Finger Cove - Charles

Copyright © 2016 by Chowhound
All Rights Reserved

From Previous Chapter:

As soon as the deputy who stepped in front of the biker leader was accosted by the other bikers, the remaining Sheriff Deputies went into action and began to assist their companion. George Canfields shoulder mic was still activated and when Headquarters heard the commotion they dispatched additional deputies. Within five minutes five additional Sheriff Deputies arrived at The Cove. Their sirens and flashing lights now caught the attention of more of the carnival crowd which began to gravitate to the commotion. Lucky for the deputies they had subdued the bikers before the onlookers could make a nuisance of themselves.

While the Sheriff Deputies took care of the bikers, Mr. Ken took the distraught Charles into the house to try to calm him down. He only allowed Robert and Chief to accompany him. Ken Thomas knew he now had a huge problem on his hands.

As Mr. Ken, along with Robert and Chief, led the distraught Charles into the main house, Collin, Ryan and Eric continued back to the carnival area. There they met up with Brad and the other lads who quickly asked about Robert and Charles. They also asked about the commotion up at the main gate so the group decided to head over to the dock where it was very quiet, to sit and talk.

"So, can you tell us what that was all about up at the gate," immediately asked Brad, as the boys settled down on the boat dock.

Eric looked at Ryan who looked to Collin to see who would tackle the question. Collin figured he'd try to answer Brad's question.

"Brad …," began Collin, "guys …," he continued, "the thing that happened up at the gate is simple, well … it's simple enough. Some bikers tried to crash the carnival and … and the Explorer's called the on-site deputies to intervene. They subsequently called in the cavalry."

"Yeah, but what was that all about what that guy yelled out to Mr. Ken?" asked Chuck.

The three 'brothers' looked to one another, again, and Collin decided to take that question too.

"Chuck … from what we heard … and saw … it sounded like the one biker thought he knew Charles. He wanted Charles to go with him when they left but as you saw … well, Mr. Ken directed us all away from the bikers so there wouldn't be a confrontation. But … well it appeared that it happened anyway. As you saw, the biker began to follow us and the deputy stopped him and the rest as they say is … history."

"Yeah, I saw that but … didn't that guy say his mom was his girlfriend at one time?" persisted Chuck.

Again, the three 'brothers' looked to one another, but this time Eric decided to answer since he knew Chuck and the other new teenagers.

"Guys … Charles is in the foster care system just like Robert is. He only got here last night after dinner, and we don't know all that much about his past. Robert was at one foster home with him back before he came to The Cove. Robert knows more than we do … which is why Mr. Ken took him inside with him to help calm Charles down. Guys … no matter what happens after this you can't … you can't start asking Charles, or Robert, even, about his past.

"It is bad enough Charles is away from his parents, and all, and he doesn't need us adding to his troubles by asking him personal questions. He'll tell us when he's ready to tell us and not a minute before. So, guys … can you treat him like we did Robert, when he first got here, and not bug him about it?" finished Eric.

Chuck looked over to Brad and Trevor as they looked to Cody, Logan and Josh for a sign they'd agreed to what Eric asked. It was Logan who spoke up.

"Eric, we understand what you're saying. We didn't bug Robert about why he's living with Mr. Ken and I … well, I for one still don't fully know why he's here and, really, I don't care. I like Robert … and he's a good friend. I hope he can get back with his parents one day, but if he can't then we all know this is the best place for him … you know, living with Mr. Ken.

"I also hope that Charles can get back with his parents one day, too, and like Robert I know living with Mr. Ken will be the best place for him if he doesn't. Eric … all of us will wait for Charles to get settled and get to know all of us and maybe make his own friends. And, while he does all that, we'll treat him exactly like we did Robert. As a good friend."

Logan then looked over at his closest friends and said, "Isn't that right, guys?" All the lads nodded their heads.

Inside the house, Mr. Ken took Charles into his office so they could talk. Robert, along with Chief, followed closely behind hoping his 'dad' wouldn't ask him any questions about Charles.

Charles wasn't crying anymore, as he followed along with Mr. Ken, but he knew the biker man recognized him and he was now afraid that the man would come and try to take him away. Charles then thought to himself, "Maybe Mr. Ken can fight off the bad guys and save Collin but I wonder if he can fight off Smokey and his entire group, the Satan's Devils?"

Mr. Ken sat down in one of the plush chairs he has in his office, and pulled Charles into it with him. He then hugged the still stressed out lad and told the boy he'll do whatever it takes to make sure he is safe there at The Cove.

Charles just sat there in Mr. Ken's lap not even feeling the hug he was getting. All he could think about was what was going to happen to him now that his mom's former boyfriend, Larry Masson, now knows where he is living. He felt he needed to do something to keep from having to go with the man, so he got off Mr. Ken's lap and began walking out of the Study.

"Charles … where are you going, son?" immediately asked Mr. Ken.

"I have to get away or else Smokey … he'll come back and take me away. I don't want to go with him again, ever. He'll make me do things … not only for him but his buddies, too. I don't ever want to have to do that ever again," softly spoke the youngster, who then burst out crying and sat right down onto the floor.

Ken Thomas quickly ran to the lad but got there a second too late as Robert had already hugged his friend and began to rub Charles' back to try to calm his friend down.

"Charlie … Mr. Ken will take care of you, I know he can, but you got to give him some time to make things happen," counseled Robert.

"But … he doesn't know Smokey and … and what he can do," said Charles, through his tears.

"But you've got to give him a chance, Charlie. He fought the guys who were after Collin and he even got shot protecting him and I know he'll protect you as good as or even better than he did Collin," argued Robert.

"But you don't understand, Bobby. Smokey … he's one of the leaders of the Satan's Devils and he can a put together a large number of guys, and he won't stop for nothing," argued back Charles.

Mr. Ken listened to the boys talk and waited until there was a lull in their conversation. When it appeared they didn't have anything else to say to one another he got down on the floor with the boys and pulled them both into a hug.

"Charles," began Mr. Ken, "Robert is right about you giving me the chance to see what I can do for you. I know a lot of people … and I have resources that many other people could never think of. Now, this man, Smokey, he says he was one of your mom's boyfriends. How long were they together? And do you know why they stopped dating?"

Charles, with his tear's still running down his cheeks, looked into his new foster father's eyes and said, "My mom … my mom and Smokey … they … they dated for about six months and then they broke up because she couldn't … she couldn't pay her drug bill. That's what caused Smokey and her to break up, but Smokey … he still demanded his money. That's when she began to … she began to …," but Charles couldn't go on any further as he remembered what she made him do, so she'd could get the money. Those horrible thoughts made him burst out crying again and then he pulled himself into the safety of the man.

Robert knew what Charles was trying to say, as they had often talked about why they were in the foster care system; he just wasn't sure if he should tell his 'dad' and break the trust they had between them. Mr. Ken saw the look of understanding in his 'son's' eyes and wondered if Robert knew what Charles couldn't, or wouldn't, tell him.

"Charles … I think I understand what it is that you really don't want me to know, just yet. You know that Robert has been living with me ever since the Holidays, and I want you to know that I know his whole story. And, I mean everything. I know you two are good friends. It was very evident when you guys met last night. I also see in Robert's eyes … that he knows what your mom made you do, just as what his dad made him do, too.

"Son … I am not going to judge you … nor am I going to hold anything you were made to do, against you. What I want to know though, is how this Smokey guy fits into what your mom made you do. Do you think you could at least tell me what he did with you, or to you? Once I have the gist of what he did … then I can begin to set things in motion. Do you think you could help me with that?" finished up Ken Thomas, with the hope that the lad would want to help.

Charles heard everything his new foster father had said and wanted him to do. He didn't know how the man, Mr. Ken, could help him but he knew that Robert loved the man so much he called him 'dad'. He wanted the same thing for himself, but he wasn't sure what he should do. He knew how notorious Smokey was, when it came to someone who crossed him, and he knew if Smokey ever got a hold of him he would probably be dead.

As Charles sat on the floor, alongside the man and his friend, he could sense that Mr. Ken honestly felt he could help save him from Smokey and help him move on to a 'new' life there at Three Finger Cove. He knew he had to decide to either help his own cause, or try to get as far away from there, as possible, but he didn't know how he could ever do that without the man's help.

Charles continued to mull around his options, in his head, as he relished in the safe feeling he now felt as he was held in his foster dad's arms. He continued to review the only two real options he figured he had; stay and fight, or run and hide. The first option, he figured, gave him some hope that he could finally have a home, that he could call his own, and get that 'new' life Mr. Ken promised. The second option, he realized, running and hiding, gave him no future and the potential of still being found by Smokey. He knew that if Smokey ever did get a hold of him the man would repeatedly rape him and then pass him off to his buddies before being killed. He realized there was only one course of action he should take, could take.

"Mr. Ken …," began Charles, as he slightly pulled out of the hug, "I don't want to have to run the rest of my life. Smokey knows where I am now, but … he'll never give up looking for me if I try to run and hide. I know too much. I figure my only hope is to let you do whatever you can to help me be safe. I know if I run and if Smokey finds me I … I'm dead. At least if I help you I have a chance at living and getting that 'new' life you sort of promised me. … So … what do you want me to do?"

Just as Charles told Mr. Ken he was willing to help do whatever it was that could get the man, known as Smokey, away from him for good, the front door bell rang. Chief and Mr. Ken got up to answer it. It was Dan Fischer who wanted to let Mr. Ken know what they finally did with the bikers.

"Hello, Dan, please come in," offered Ken Thomas.

"Thank you Mr. Ken … I felt it would be good form to stop by to fill you in on what we did with the bikers. Do you have a few minutes?" finished Dan Fischer.

"Dan, I am glad you did stop by. I was just about to call you. Let's head into my Study. Charles and Robert are waiting for me," offered Mr. Ken, as he guided the Sheriff's Deputy to the Study.

"Deputy Dan Fischer I'd like you to meet my new foster son, Charles Lewis. He only just arrived last night," was how Mr. Ken introduced Charles to Dan.

"Hello, Charles, welcome," began Dan, "I stopped by to tell Mr. Ken what we did with the bikers, so I am glad you and Robert are here so you can hear it, too."

Dan sat down in one of the plush leather chairs and relished its softness after spending the last 45 minutes standing and dealing with the gate crashers. He then pulled out his notebook and reviewed his notes before he began to explain what they did with the bikers.

"Mr. Ken … boys … Chief," laughed Dan, "the biker leader …"

"Is Larry Masson," offered Charles.

"Ahh, yes, Lawrence Masson is his name. He was arrested for disturbing the peace and trespassing. The other four bikers …" started Dan, but was again interrupted by Charles.

"Are Patrick 'Spider', Jacob 'Butcher', Jody 'Greaser' and Paige 'Chickee', but I don't know their last names," said Charles.

"Oh, but I do," smiled Dan Fischer. "It's Patrick Pearce, Jacob Cook, Jody Franks and Paige Perrie. They were all arrested for not only disturbing the peace and trespassing but also for an assault on a police officer. Perrie and Franks were also charged with possession of a deadly weapon. They are all down at headquarters being arraigned and/or posting bail. Larry Masson, along with Pearce and Cook are probably already back on the streets, literally. All of the biker's motorcycles were impounded and are being held in the police vehicle compound lot and they can only get them back after they pay the storage fees and any fines they were assessed. I hope they have lots of money," added Dan.

"Oh, they do!" piped up Charles.

"Oh? Do tell me more," said Dan.

"Dan," began Mr. Ken, "the reason I was going to call you is because Charles just agreed to help me do something about the leader, Larry Masson. And in doing so, he hopes his help will make it so that he can feel safe and start a new life here at The Cove," explained Mr. Ken.

"Mr. Ken, if Charles can indeed help us put Masson and his minions, and anyone else for that matter, behind bars for a very long time, it would probably reduce or eliminate much of the drug problem we have in the lower parts of the county. My bet is it will also reduce the amount of petty crimes associated with the drug users trying to get easy money to pay for their drug habit," reasoned Dan Fischer

"Let me quickly call Detective Sergeant Matthias and Detective Roberts and we can start putting a case together," quickly spoke up Dan Fischer, as he pulled out his cell phone and began to make the call.

"Hold on Dan," said Mr. Ken as he stood up from behind his desk. "Before you, Matthias and Roberts talk to Charles, I want to have him represented by a lawyer. And, I want him given total immunity from prosecution for any and all crimes he may have committed while he was living with his mother."

That simple request by Mr. Ken stopped Deputy Dan in his tracks. "You know we can't do that. It isn't in our purview. We'll have to get the DA involved before any of that can be worked out," stammered Dan Fischer.

"Dan … I didn't mean to put a kibosh on your plans to clean up the south county drug problem, but … well, I guess I unintentionally did. Look Dan … Charles only turned twelve years old a few months ago and was taken away from his mom just after he turned eleven. The things he might tell you about may incriminate him, I just don't know.

"That is why I want him represented by a lawyer and the lad given a free ride to anything he may have done. But, at his young age he may not have even realized he did anything wrong at the time. So, what do you say Dan? Can you talk to DA Morris for me or would you rather I bring it up to him?" explained Ken Thomas.

"Okay, I can understand what you're trying to do here, Mr. Ken, for Charles sake, that is. I've never known you to be anything other than a man of integrity and principle and this is indeed something I know you'd want to do. … Ahh, it is getting late and … well, I don't think DA Morris would appreciate being bothered by something that could wait until tomorrow or Monday, even. I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll talk to Sheriff Barnes and let him deal with it. In the meantime, I'll fill Matthias and Roberts in on what you're proposing," explained Dan, as to how he would proceed.

Then, looking over at Charles, Dan said, "Charles … I want to thank you for agreeing to help us. Mr. Ken here … he'll take good care of you, if you let him, and he'll do whatever he has to do to make sure you're safe."

"Tha thank you, Sheriff," stammered out Charles.

"Oh, I'm just the Deputy Sheriff, Charles. I work for the Sheriff," began to explain Deputy Fischer. "But … there is something I want you to know. I've known Mr. Ken, here … ever since that big storm, a number of years ago. His word is good all-around this county and you couldn't have a better person as your foster dad and, most of all, as the man standing behind you. Let him take care of you and you'll be a much happier person."

"Thank you for telling me that," said Charles. "I was only nine when that storm came through and my mom … she told me all about what he did back after that storm and … and when they brought me here to live … I felt … like the luckiest person in the world. That is, until I learned Robert was living here already. After talking to Mr. Ken, earlier, I figure if I don't help you, sooner or later … Smokey will kidnap me and I'll … and then I'll be dead."

Dan heard the lad's words but immediately looked to Mr. Ken for some sort of verification the lad felt that way. Seeing the man nod in the affirmative, Dan decided he'd better work hard to get that immunity for the pre-teen.

"Boys, Mr. Ken, and you too Chief, I'm going to head back out on patrol. I'll talk to Sheriff Barnes first thing tomorrow. In the meantime, Charles, I want you to stay close to Mr. Ken and if anything doesn't appear to be right you call us. You hear me, Charles. If you are as afraid of this Larry Masson as you seem to be then … then he may try to anything and everything to get to you," cautioned Deputy Dan Fischer.

Then, stooping over and looking at Chief he said, "And Chief, I want you to be especially protective of Charles, here. He's a good kid that bad things may happen to, so he needs not only a friend but someone to watch over him. And … I know you're the right dog that can do that. Are you ready to accept your position as Charles' 'protector'?"

Chief looked Dan directly in the eye and responded by barking, "Woof … woof, woof …woof!"

"Thank you Chief. I'm leaving now so you are now on duty. Boys … Mr. Ken …." And with that Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer want back on patrol.

Charles went over to his new foster dad and hugged the man. He then looked up to the man and said, "Thank you for wanting to help me. I only just arrived here yesterday and I am already making trouble for you and the other boys staying here. I sure hope Smokey doesn't try anything. I would hate for the other boys to get hurt because of me."

Ken Thomas hugged Charles back and tried to assure the lad that he'll do whatever he has to do to put Smokey away and get Charles his life back. He then saw the time and suggested they go out and catch up with their other 'brothers', and friends, and that he'd catch up with them to watch the fireworks, after he made a phone call or two.

As soon as Charles was released from his hug, Robert quickly jumped in to get his own hug. Chief did the same as soon Robert backed away. Mr. Ken just laughed at the three's antics and then shooed them out of the house.

As soon as the threesome left, Mr. Ken sat down at his desk and made his first phone call.

"Bill … I'm sorry to bother you but … well, I have a problem. A big problem," began Mr. Ken, who then proceeded to explain everything and what he wanted to do for his new foster son, Charles. Bill Jackson, Ken Thomas' primary' lawyer, said he'd talk to Sheriff Barnes and DA Morris tomorrow.

Mr. Ken's second phone call was to Judy Turner, the Director of Child Protective Services herself, who had decided to stay home that night and forgo the crowd of people. She was the one who brought Charles to him the previous day. Judy thanked the man for the heads-up and promised she'd stop over the next day to try to help him and Charles sort things out.

The man's last phone call was to Jules Diamond. He quickly explained to Jules what happened that night and his fear that Larry Masson, aka Smokey, would try to get to Charles. He asked Jules to provide a 24-hour guard service for the foreseeable future. Jules quickly agreed to the request and said he'd have some men there before the fireworks were over. The fireworks remark made Mr. Ken check the time and then he called Collin to find out where they all were. He then headed in the 'brothers' direction.

Out in the carnival area, the five 'brothers', along with Robert's and Eric's friends, had put their game coupons to good use. They stopped at the Baseball Speed Throw to see who could throw a baseball the fastest. The winner got a coupon from the 'losers'. Nobody expected Cody to be the big winner.

The eleven boys then proceeded to the Milk Bottle Knock Down. They all made the same bet. The winner gets a game coupon from the others. They made Cody go first so they knew what sort of competition they had. Cody only knocked three of the six bottles off the table. Then Collin and Ryan threw and they didn't do any better. Brad, Josh, Chuck, Logan and Trevor went next and Josh was able to knock four of the six bottles off the table.

Then it was Robert's turn. He knocked off three bottles. Eric was next and he only knocked two bottles off. It was now up to Charles to beat Josh's four bottles. Charles threw his first ball and knocked three bottles off, first thing. His second ball knocked one more off. He and Josh were now tied. Charles last throw knocked the last two bottles off the table and won not only a medium prize but also the game coupons from each of the other boys.

"Dang," started Chuck, "who'd have thought the two smallest guys would have won those games?"

The other lads laughed at Chuck and then suggested they go over to Bottle-Ring Toss but Chuck had other ideas. He argued they should try something that took strength, like the Hammer - Bell Ringer. He said they should see who was the strongest by ringing the bell at the top. The other boys talked amongst themselves and finally agreed to try that and then they decided on the same bet.

Since Chuck wanted to swing the hammer and ring the bell at the top of the tower, so badly the other boys decided to make him go first. Chuck picked up one of the two hammers the operator showed him he could use and walked up to the device and prepared himself to swing. The teenager hefted the mallet for its balance and then took his stance and swung the hammer. The weight on the tower only went to Level 800. His friends sort of chuckled at his performance. They then decided in which order they would each attempt the same feat.

None of the boys would ever be considered 'strong', in any sense of the word, and anyone looking on would ever think any of them could make the weight ring the bell. Collin and Ryan's tries didn't make it much past Chuck's Level 800. Logan's try almost made it to Level 900. The biggest surprise was when Brad got up to take his turn. The teen selected what all the other boys figured was the lightest mallet and that it couldn't help anyone ring the bell.

Brad hefted the smaller mallet and found its balance and then got into position. He looked over at all his friends, and smiled. He then placed the mallet into his hands and began to swing the hammer. Brad never stopped smiling as he swung the mallet and hit the weights launching pad. The teen's hand-eye coordination, coupled with his understanding of the way the pivot of the launching pad worked, made the weight rapidly rise up the tower and the ringing of the bell could be heard all around the carnival grounds.

It was then that Mr. Ken came upon the lads and he congratulated Brad for his winning swing. The other lad's just looked on in disbelief that Brad won the bet. Reluctantly they each gave the winner a game coupon. It was then the lads counted their remaining coupons.

"Sheesh, I only have one game coupon left," complained Eric.

"That's all I have, too, Eric," offered Robert.

"Then you shouldn't bet if you can't afford to lose," teased Logan.

Robert and Eric both quickly pulled up their right hand and began to give Logan the 'middle finger of happiness' but knowing Mr. Ken was right there they decided against it. They only gave him their 'little finger' instead. The whole group, including Mr. Ken had a good laugh over that.

It was then they heard a whistling sound going up in the air followed by a loud Boom. That indicated that the fireworks operator was testing the wind direction so he could soon safely produce the fireworks show. Mr. Ken told the lads that more than likely that within 30 minutes the fireworks show would begin. He recommended they play one last game and then head over to the covered picnic table on The Cove's middle 'finger'.

The large group knew they couldn't play a game where they each went one-by-one, because it would just take way too much time. So, they looked for a game that more of them could play at a time. As they walked along the carnival midway they spotted a game that had six boards. That meant that six could play first and then the rest could play. They headed over to the game to see what it was all about.

The game was called Six Ball Roll. The lads saw the game was played with 6 balls and the object was to roll the balls down the board table and have their score add up to less than 7 or more than 32. Mr. Ken suggested that he and his 'boys' compete against one another leaving the other lads to compete against one another. The lads all agreed to the challenge but now they had to decide which six would go first.

Charles then spoke up and said, "As the youngest boy here, I say that my new 'brothers' friends should go first and us 'Covers' go last."

The whole group stopped and looked at Charles when he called the people living at Three Finger Cove, 'Covers'. They then all laughed at the 'Covers' title and began to pat Charles on his back for coming up with the name. The group started to walk again and arrived at the game thirty seconds later.

The friends – Brad, Josh, Chuck, Trevor, Cody and Logan – all took their positions at their respective board table. The game operator had already given each lad his six game balls and told them to begin whenever they were ready and that there was no time limit to releasing the balls.

All six boys concentrated on rolling their game balls into the lowest numbered slots. Brad, Josh and Trevor were able to get their first three game balls into a Number 1 slot meaning they had three points and needed at least three more 1's to win. The other lads weren't so lucky. They had to shoot for their score to be more than 32. By the lads fifth game ball, only Trevor had the chance to get lower than a score of 7 and Logan had the only chance to get his score higher than 32. Unfortunately, by the two teen's last game balls no one had beaten the game.

Now it was the 'Covers' turn to try to try their luck. Only Charles and Mr. Ken were able to get their first three game balls into the lowered numbered slots which gave them the chance to have a score lower than 7. The other 'Covers' all had to shoot for a score of over 32.

By the end of the roll of their fifth game ball, Charles and Mr. Ken could still get their score below 7 while only Collin could still break 32. Ryan, Robert and Eric all let their last game ball roll where ever it would go and they stood back to watch Charles, Mr. Ken and Collin roll their last game ball.

Collin went first. He released his last game ball and put a slight spin on it to try to keep it towards the middle and higher numbers. As Collin rolled his ball, Charles pointed his last game ball towards the side and the Number 1 slot. Mr. Ken waited to release his last game ball as he wanted to see what his' 'son's' would do. Both of them missed a winning score.

All eyes were now on Mr. Ken. The lad's excited voices throughout the entire game roll caught the attention of the nearby carnival goers and they joined in watching the man roll his last game ball.

"Nothing like a little pressure, with all these eyes watching, is there?" teased Mr. Ken. He then set his last ball on the board table and with just a slight nudge he directed it towards a Number 1 slot. The boys, and the surrounding crowd, were now silent as they all watched the ball head toward the Number 1 slot. But something went wrong and the ball headed slightly right. Some in the crowd let out an audible "Awww" as if they knew the man would lose.

Mr. Ken's ball continued to roll slightly right and it hit the end rail of a loser slot number and bounced slightly back up the board. The ball took on a little curve and headed towards a winning Number 1 slot. It then hit the edge rail of that slot number and it slightly bounced again back up the board. This time there was no English curve to the ball and it decided to settle down into the Number 1 slot. Mr. Ken had beat the game. The lads, along with the gathered crowd, roared as if the man had just won the Lottery. The Cover boys all had to pat the man on his back. For his WIN, Mr. Ken received a large plush animal.

Collin, Ryan and Eric all had great big smiles on their faces as they relished in their Big Bros win. Robert also relished in his 'dad's' WIN, but he felt something inside of him that made him proud that is was his 'dad' who won.

As for Charles, he had never been a part of anything such as he had just experienced. His mom never took him to a carnival, like the one he was now at, and he for sure never played any of the carnival games he had today. He was overwhelmed with emotions right then and coupled with what happened to him earlier the only thing he could think to do was to grab his new foster dad and hug for all he was worth.

Ken Thomas felt someone grab him and begin to hug him tight but he didn't realize it was Charles until he equally grabbed his hugger. Charles unexpected hug only reconfirmed, in his mind, the fragile condition his new charge was in. He wished Doc Doug was there, just then, so he could begin to help this very delicate pre-teen. But short of Doc Doug's immediate help, Mr. Ken realized he needed to stay tuned to Charles psyche as well as the way he reacts to any local stimuli.

It was then that the fireworks operator sent up a fireworks shell, called a Report, which Boomed as loud as anyone had ever heard. Then, another Report went up and after that the first of the aerial fireworks began their assent to begin the evenings 4th of July Fireworks Extravaganza.

Mr. Ken quickly organized his brood and directed them to head to their personal observation site. They continued to watch the fireworks as they all hurried over to the dock and then down the 'finger' to the covered picnic table. Once there, the boys picked out either a soft spot on the grass or a seat at the table. Ken Thomas wanted to enjoy the fireworks display with his newest son's so he pulled them on to either side of him and hugged them. For the next forty minutes the large crowd of carnival goers, as well as the many boaters, out on the lake, enjoyed the free firework aerial display.

It was that last five minutes of the fireworks display, call the barrage, which the community would be talking about for the rest of the summer. The ending not only had hundreds of aerial rockets but it also included ground effects that featured red, white and blue stars and a huge American flag. When it was all over, the crowd applauded for more than five minutes to show their appreciation of the massive fireworks display.

Even though the fireworks were over the carnival continued. People went right back to continuing to ride the rides, eat the wonderful foods, and play the carnival games. And even though it was getting late, Mr. Ken allowed the boys to go back to the carnival and spend the rest of their coupons. Robert and Eric didn't have any more game coupons, as they spent their last one at the Six Ball Roll. But it was Charles who came through and gave each of the boys' two game coupons each. He received two big hugs for his generosity.

As the lads enjoyed running from ride to ride and partaking in some of those wonderful foods, during the last hours of the carnival, a lone figure was watching one boy in particular. Larry Masson had made his way back to the carnival and this time, with it being dark, the Police Explorer's didn't recognize him and thus gave him a wrist band and the food and game coupons.

Charles began to loosen up and enjoy himself as he was surrounded by his 'brothers' and their friends. He didn't think anything of what Deputy Dan said about Smokey being 'back on the streets' and so he never thought that he would see that man again tonight. He was wrong.

The eleven lads kept a loose connection as they moved between the rides and the game and food booths. Charles stayed close to Robert and Eric but he couldn't all the time as there were some of the larger rides he didn't want ride. Then, the group headed to a ride that only Charles didn't want to ride. He said he'd stay close to the Exit gate and he'd catch up with them when the ride was over.

When the ten teens got off the ride and walked to the Exit they began looking for Charles. They couldn't find him. They called his name over and over again and asked some in the crowd if they'd seen their 'brother'. When after five minutes of looking all around the carnival, and calling out Charles name, and not finding him, Collin called Mr. Ken and told him they had lost Charles.

Ken Thomas immediately called the lead deputy and told him his son was missing and to shut down the gate. He then called Dan Fischer and told him what was going on. The Sheriff's Deputy called headquarters and told them about a possible kidnapped child at The Cove. That caused five Sheriff Cruisers and five county police officers to converge on the area. While that was going on Deputy Dan called out over the police frequency the descriptions of the possible abductor, Larry 'Smokey' Masson, and the missing boy, Charles James Lewis.

Larry Masson figured the cops would shut down the gate, when the boy went missing, so he took the twelve year old to the far side of the property to wait until the carnival shut down and hopefully they would stop looking that close by. While he had Charles with him, he told the boy what he had planned for him when they finally got away. Charles knew from Smokey's description that he would be dead by morning so he knew he had nothing to lose by trying get away, somehow.

Chief knew she had failed in her role as Charles' 'protector' when no one could find her new boy. She instantly began her own search of The Cove's grounds sniffing for the boys scent. Her hunt took her all through the game and food booths but when she went past them and began to head towards the water she sensed the trail veered off towards the other side of the property. So, she began to head in that direction.

"Hey, look at Chief. I bet she has Charles scent and is searching for him," called out Robert, to his 'brothers' and friends.

The entire search party stopped and looked to where Chief was headed. Collin quickly called his Big Bro to tell him he thought Chief had found Charles. Mr. Ken called Dan and told him they think Chief found the boy's scent and that he was probably still on The Cove's property

Chief was mad at herself for not taking better care of her charge, Charles. She knew she let Charles down by not keeping track of him but most importantly she knew she'd disappointed her original master, Mr. Ken. She was now determined to redeem herself.

Dan Fischer had called ahead to George Carrillo, the lead deputy at the carnival, and told him what Mr. Ken just relayed to him. Dan told George to get with Ken Thomas and begin the search where his dog, Chief, was headed. George and one of the other deputies headed to the back of the property to catch up with Mr. Thomas.

The owner of The Cove led the deputies along the back side of the house where he knew Chief had possibly found the lad's scent. "Chief … come here," called out Mr. Ken from the far edge of the back patio. Chief heard the man and stopped. She wanted to go after Charles but she knew she needed to go to her 'master' so she changed her direction and went to him.

As the man and his dog waited for the rest of Sheriff Deputies to arrive, the gaggle of teens came up to the patio to join with their mentor. While they waited, Mr. Ken told the boys that in no uncertain terms were they to follow Chief and the Deputies when they continued their search for Charles. He told them he didn't want them getting hurt or possibly giving the kidnaper another victim to harm. The lads knew the score and agreed to stay behind.

George, along with the other deputy, and Mr. Ken conferred and it was agreed that Chief seemed to be headed to the far side of the property and they should allow her to continue her search with them following close behind. Mr. Ken said he'd check the infrared camera feeds to see if they can pinpoint where the man and boy were and he'd call their cell phone with anything he saw.

Larry Masson wondered what the cops were doing as they didn't seem to be searching for him anymore. He saw two deputies headed to the back side of the house but then he didn't see them anymore. He didn't feel good about his hiding place, but he wasn't as concerned about the search for him and the boy as he was before. To him it looked like the cops seemed to have given up. But he did have a very sharp knife that he'd use on the boy, if he was cornered.

All the time he was being held captive, Charles was thinking of a way to get away or at least to hurt Smokey enough that he couldn't hurt him. Smokey had dragged him to the opposite corner of the estate, but unfortunately, Charles wasn't familiar enough with the property to know what all his options were. All the lad knew was they were down by a storm culvert that dumped into the lake. He could see some boats moored along the shore on the other side of the fence and he figured Larry was going to try to use one of them in his getaway.

Mr. Ken was thankful the arriving police cruisers didn't use their lights and sirens. If they had, he figured, they could have upset the search by Chief and the other deputies. Dan Fischer did eventually arrive and the two of them watched the infrared cameras for any movement or sign of the abductor and Charles.

Chief was taking her time sniffing the ground for her boy and the man he was with. She sensed the man and her boy had headed towards the culvert so she began to crawl in that direction on her way to get her boy. The deputies saw what she did so they radioed Dan to tell him what was happening.

The backlight from the lights from the carnival lite up the deputies outlines as soon as they redoubled their search efforts. That gave Larry Masson the heads-up that the search really hadn't been called off. He knew by the direction the cops were headed that he had to make his escape, and soon. What he did not know was that Chief was slowly sneaking up to his position, from his blind side.

Deputy Sheriff Dan and Mr. Ken finally did notice two heat signatures over by the culvert and directed George and his partner to head in that direction but to be careful and not spook the abductor. Dan then rushed to assist his fellow officers but before he could join them Larry Masson got spooked by their close proximity to his hiding place. The man called out to them to stay where they were or he'd cut the boy's throat. They stopped directly.

When Dan Fischer joined his fellow deputies, George had already begun a dialogue with Smokey. Larry 'Smokey' Masson stayed down but he brought the sharp knife to Charles throat and he told the cops to stay away or he'd kill the kid. Still unknown to the man, Chief was on her way and wasn't more than fifteen feet away from her prey. Chief had sneaked up unnoticed in the shadows along the side of the fence.

Dan took over the hostage negotiations and the loud talking back and forth gave Chief the opportunity to sneak even closer so she could attack the man who had her 'pup'. Also, Larry's distraction by all the loud talking gave Charles the time to think what he was going to do when he had the chance.

It was while Larry 'Smokey' Masson was responding to Dan Fischer's latest question that Chief choose to attack. Her movement caught Smokey off guard and his being startled by the sudden attack by Chief gave Charles the chance to swing the man's arm away and down and away from his throat. Regrettably, the knife lightly struck Chief and she let out a whelp. All those unanticipated motions were enough to have the knife wrenched out of his hand leaving Smokey unarmed against three armed and capable Sheriff Deputies.

Knowing he no longer had the upper hand, Larry Masson quickly ran around the fence and headed to a moored boat he had already staked out. Larry Masson started the boat's engine and went full power out onto the still crowded lake from the fireworks show. The man known as Smokey was no longer there.

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