Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Robert
Book II

by Chowhound


Chapter 4

Posted: 28 May 15

Three Finger Cove – Robert

Copyright © 2012 - 2015
by Chowhound
All rights reserved

Ken smiled at what Robert just said and taking it as the lad wanted to move forward ruffled the boy's hair and replied, "Yes, you have to go to school … it's the law. But remember, you're the new kid and nobody knows anything about you. That gives you the advantage. Plus, since you'll be living here at the Cove, there are going to be lots of boys and girls, in your class, who will want to be your friend, knowing you live here. Take it slow and get to know your classmates before you decide on who you want for your friends. … We can talk later about that, but for now let's get you enrolled in school and then get you some new clothes!"

The man and boy took the rest of the day to accomplish those two tasks. Mr. Ken was surprised the school was open, knowing the kids were still on their Holiday break but took advantage of it and enrolled Robert while he could. Robert was also impressed with the newness of the school and immediately liked the ladies he met as he got enrolled. But what Robert really enjoyed was going out and getting all new clothes, including underwear. He was even more surprised when Mr. Ken gave him the option of either briefs or boxers, or both.

"Mr. Ken … my mom always bought my clothes for me. I … I NEVER got to choose anything like what the other kids wore, even after … well, you know. This is so much fun. I'll finally look like the other kids and I won't feel so out of place."

Ken cringed at that last statement and was happy that he was able to give the boy the opportunity to make some decisions that directly affected him.

When the two shoppers arrived at the underwear department and Robert heard Mr. Ken ask him what he liked to wear the preteen looked up to the man and asked, "Are you saying that I can choose to wear boxers if I want to?"

"Why, yes, I don't see any harm in letting you choose what you want to wear, especially … well, you know, down where it counts for us guys" replied Mr. Ken, with a smile.

Robert laughed at what the man just said about 'down where it counts' and said, "Well … I never ever had boxers before so … well, how do I choose which ones to get?"

"Oh, yea, I see what you mean. I sure wish Eric was here, he'd know. But again, I think it was his two 'big brothers' who explained it to him when he got his first pair of boxer shorts."

"Who's Eric?" asked Robert.

"I guess last night I never fully explained who he is. Well, Eric is Ms. Turner's son. You heard me ask Ms. Judy if his birthday was the same month as yours. He's about your age and I bet he'll also be in your class."

Robert got this scared look on his face just then and meekly asked, "Will Eric know all about me, you know, from his mom and all, and … and will he tell everybody at school about me then?"

"Ahhh ... I can see why you might think that, but NO … Ms. Judy will not tell her son, Eric, anything about you, ever. The only way anyone in your class will ever know anything about you is if you tell them! I know you may find that hard to believe, for now, but once you start school and the other kids begin asking you to tell them about who you are I think that will settle your mind about that possibility. … Now, what say we take a look at the boxers and discuss the pros and cons about them?"

"Okay, but can I ask you a question?" spoke up Robert.

"Sure, but you just did," smiled Mr. Ken, wanting to lighten the mood after that last question. He continued by adding, "Gotcha!" while still laughing.

Robert saw the smile and heard the laugh and knew right away that Mr. Ken was just fooling around so he asked his question anyways. "Well, I remember you saying something about Collin being Eric's 'big brother' so, who is his other 'big brother'?" queried Robert.

"You know, that is a good question. I don't think I told you anything about the other teen that you will see around the house and who you'll soon get to meet. His name is Ryan, Ryan Taylor. He works for me by taking care of the boats at the docks and the beach down at the lake. I met him back when I was building The Cove and got to know him and his mom. I had him take pictures and videos of the house as it was being built. He's been a big part of Three Finger Cove and even had his own room there, for a while.

"When Collin came to live with me, he and Collin became best friends and still are. Anyway, Eric was only ten when he began coming to The Cove and both Ryan and Collin took him under their wings and treated him as if he were their 'little brother'. Neither Ryan nor Collin has any siblings and so they enjoyed having the younger boy around to show things to. On top of that, Eric enjoyed having two older 'brothers' to talk to about things. You know, 'guy' things" smiled Ken.

"But why would Eric come over to your house? I mean, if he was only ten why would he be hanging around much older teens?" asked Robert.

"Boy, you sure are full of question" laughed Mr. Ken.

"Sorry" meekly responded Robert.

"Oh, no, I don't mean to cut you off. Didn't you see me laughing when I said that?"

"Yes, I did but …"

"Hey, I'm not mad at you for asking questions. I guess we both need to get used to one another, don't we?"

"Yeah, I guess."

"Okay, as for why Eric comes over to my house. You know Ms. Judy works for Children's Protective Services, right? Well, she was the one who came to my house right after Collin was found, after that big storm, a few years back. She wanted to find him a home where he could live until his parents could be found and returned to them. Well, the governor stepped in and stopped her from doing just that. Back then, she and I were not such good friends!"

"Then how did she become your friend and how did Eric get to come over?" insisted Robert.

"I'm getting to that. Well, with Thanksgiving just around the corner, Collin asked if I would invite her and her son to the Thanksgiving Dinner I planned having at my house. That's how she got to know Collin better and understood why it was better for the teenager to remain with me rather than be placed into a foster home that didn't have all the protections that I had."

"Oh, you mean because of the shootout?" continued the lad.

"Yes, but that happened the day after. Anyway, her son Eric was there that day and he got to meet Collin and Ryan, as well as a few other boys. But it was during the Holidays, which followed, that Eric came over to the house and became a constant there. He not only was invited to the parties, that I had over the Holidays, he was also invited to the winter swim party the older boys had and the rest is history, as they say."

"Boy that sounds complicated. I bet there is a lot more to that but … it is a long story isn't it?" teased Robert.

"Yes, it is and I was a bit long winded wasn't I? Over time the two teens began calling Eric their 'little' brother and to them his 'big' brothers. And with that said, let's look at these briefs and boxers and make a decision. I bet you're starved since we didn't even have lunch yet."

"Not really. I did have a late breakfast, if you remember. … But, what did Eric's 'big' brothers do to help him decide whether to wear boxers or briefs?"

"I think they told him to try a pair of boxers to see if he liked them first."

"Is that what the teens wore?"

"Yes, they did."

"Oh, okay," is all Robert said, but his mind was working overtime trying to think why it was that the man would know the teens wore boxers. He figured he find out eventually so he decided not to ask the question.

"Then, can I do the same? You know, try a few pairs of boxers to see if I like them, too?"

"Yes, I think that is a wise decision but … now you have to decide if you want boxers that are loose or boxer briefs that are a snug fit."

"What does Eric wear?" quickly asked Robert.

"Well, I've seen him wear the snug fitting kind. The same type his 'big' brothers wear."

"Well, is it okay if I got both kinds today? Then, if I really like the boxer briefs I can get more of them?"

"I think that is a good idea," replied Mr. Ken, who then added, with a big smile on his face, "Which color?"

Robert saw the mischief in the man's smile so he decided to add to the 'fun' and asked, with his own mischievous smile, "Do you think they have pink?"

Both man and boy had a good laugh over their last exchange with Robert selecting a 5-pack each of cotton/argon and polyester briefs in dark colors.

All Mr. Ken could say, with a smile, was, "Good choice."

With that chore finished, the two made their way to the boys section of the store and looked at the new spring styles and what remained of the winter clothes. Mr. Ken allowed Robert to look through both selections and then told the lad to choose eight polo shirts for school and eight t-shirts for after school and play. Then the man had the youngster choose some school pants and then a few pairs of jeans for after school and play.

"Are you sure you want to buy all these clothes for me?" asked Robert. "What if I don't decide to stay with you after two weeks? Will I have to give back all these clothes?"

"No, definitely not!" replied Mr. Ken. "These are your clothes now, and will remain with you wherever you may go."

"Oh, okay, but … why did the other places keep all my clothes when I left them?" asked Robert.

"That, my boy, is the sixty-four thousand dollar question," replied Mr. Ken. "I may have to look into that, especially if there are some clothes you really liked and wanted to keep."

"I saw you only have one pair of shoes and those are pretty beat up so what say we go look at some shoes while we are here. You probably need two pair of sneakers …"

And before he could finish, Robert spoke up and finished it for him by saying "…one for school and one for play."

Mr. Ken looked down on the 12 year old and smiled and then ruffled his hair. "You're catching on ain't you?"

"There is no such word as 'ain't'" spoke up Robert. "You should have said 'aren't' and yes … I think I am catching on. I'm a fast learner," smiled Robert.

"Well, I'm sorry to disappoint you, there, Robert … but according to the top dictionaries, like Merriam-Webster, 'ain't' has been recognized as a true word. People tend to use it as a substitute for am not, is not, and are not, and it is more commonly used in less educated people. But, the word is used more and more today in many conversations and by all sorts of educated peoples. … Did I burst your bubble?" laughed Mr. Ken.

Robert heard the laughter coming from his new foster dad and knew the man wasn't chastising him but was just telling him 'how it was'. The lad then smiled and the more he heard Mr. Ken laugh made him begin to laugh too and then the two joined in a good laugh together. Still giggling, they picked out three pair of sneakers for the lad to wear.

"What about PJs, Robert? What do you like to wear them to sleep in," asked his new foster dad.

"PJs?" asked a wide eyed Robert. "I haven't worn pajamas for years. Ever since my parents started to …" and Robert never finished his thought, as the tears began to rise in his eyes and fall down his cheeks.

Mr. Ken saw the boy begin to tear up so he quickly grabbed the boy into a hug and told him that everything would begin to turn out alright, now that he was living at Three Finger Cove. The man continued to reassure the boy that his 'old' life was history and he was beginning to make NEW memories and would have a 'new' and better life and that he should begin to look forward and not backward.

A saleslady saw the man grab the boy and was concerned that something was amiss but when she got over to the man and boy she saw who the man was and that he was comforting a crying lad. She then lightly asked, "I'm sorry to intrude, Mr. Ken, but … is there anything I can do for you … or the boy?"

"No, not right now … (Mr. Ken quickly looked at her name tag) Cheryl, but thank you for asking. Robert here just remembered a bad memory as we were talking and … well he just needs a few minutes to recover."

As he was telling Cheryl her help wasn't needed, Robert began to pull out of the hug and wiped his eyes and said, "Thank you, miss, for coming over when you saw someone was holding me. I just wish other people would have been as observant as you."

The twelve year old then pulled back into Mr. Ken's hug and cried some more.

The lady understood that the lad needed to work through his 'pain' so she mouthed to Mr. Ken "Let me know if I can do anything. I'll be right over there."

It took Robert a few more minutes to compose himself and as he stepped back from the man said, "Thank you, too, Mr. Ken. I'm sorry I acted like a little baby doing all that crying."

"Robert … I suspect that you're going to be crying a bit more as you try to rid yourself of your demons. Just remember that I will always be there for you, always. … What say we finish this later, huh?"

The pre-teen stood there thinking and then looked to the man and said, "Well, all we need to do is decide is if I'm going to wear any pajamas. Mr. Ken … I don't wear pajamas when I go to bed. I just sleep in my underwear and a t-shirt. I hope you don't mind that I do that?" finished a now smiling 12 year old.

Seeing the smile on the lad's face, Mr. Ken responded by saying, "Robert, I don't sleep in PJs either. I just wanted to give you the option and since we were here what better time to get them? But now that you mention you sleep with a t-shirt what say we look at some special types of shirts for you to wear. This way you won't be wearing all your clean t-shirts from your dresser drawer."

"What do you mean, 'special' type of t-shirts," asked Robert.

"Well, I like to wear the t-shirts made by Reebok. Their made of 100% polyester and they don't wrinkle too much when you wear them. Sometimes … I'll wear it to breakfast since it still does look good after a good night's sleep."

"Is that all you wear?" asked the surprised youngster.

"No, no, I put on some polyester sport shorts, or gym shorts, before I go out into the common areas of the Cove. I might own the place but I can't just walk around in my briefs. What would the neighbors say?" teased the man.

Smiling at what the man said, Robert said, "Okay, let's look at them, too, and if I like them can I get some, too?"

"Sure, no problem," smiled Mr. Ken.

As the two looked at the sport shorts, Robert spied some swimming suits and pointed them out to his foster dad. In the end, Robert got three sets of sleep shirts and shorts and two swim suits. And, he did go back and find sneakers – one for school and one for play and one for whatever.

After four hours of clothes shopping, the man and pre-teen had eight large bags full of clothes to carry as they walked out of the department store and over to Mr. Ken's 4-door F-150 truck. Now, with his new clothes all picked out, Robert mentioned that he was a 'little bit hungry' which caused Mr. Ken to ask, "McDonalds?"

The smile on the lads face told Ken that was a 'good choice', too.

Standing in line, Robert couldn't make up his mind what he wanted to eat. He looked up to his new guardian who instinctively knew the boy didn't know what to get.

"How hungry are you, Robert? Also … keep in mind that Momma Maria will have a big dinner ready for us at about 6 o'clock and you don't want to disappoint her by being too full. It's now 2:30, so I'd recommend getting a McDouble, which is two regular hamburger patties with or without cheese, a medium fry and a drink. That should satisfy your hunger pains and not stuff you so much you won't enjoy Momma Maria's cooking tonight."

"What are you going to get?"

"I usually get that, but without the cheese; now, what about you?"

"I'll get the same. Please!" smiled Robert.

The two new family members, of sorts, sat and ate in a booth at the McDonalds. They talked about Robert's shopping experience and had a good laugh over the buying of the boxer briefs. While they sat there, a few people stopped by and said 'hello' to Mr. Ken who then had to explain to the lad what was happening.

"You mean you know all these people?" asked an incredulous Robert.

"Well, not ALL of them. But they know WHO I am from the work I did for the governor after that big storm. Remember, I was just out of college when the governor called and asked me to be his representative in this area during the recovery and reconstruction. Here I was, a 23 year old college graduate and I got thrust into a position normally filled by a seasoned political veteran.

"I did my best and the people remembered that what I said was 'my word' and I did as much for the 'little' people as I did for the well-connected. They saw I was fair and made sure they got taken care of and sometimes before the well-to-do did. Then, there was the shooting at The Cove. It was what was said about me, you know, being a 'hero' that everybody came to know who I was. Thus they ALL began to call me Mr. Ken."

"Doesn't it bother you that … that all these people stop and talk to you?" asked the boy.

"Well, yea, at first it did, because I never thought of myself as the 'hero' they all believe me to be. But, as the word got out that I somehow 'took a bullet' meant for someone else, in particular a teenager named Collin Wilkinson, it got to be something I HAD to get used to. Now, I just thank anyone and everyone who has a kind word for me.

"Hey, if you're done there what say we get home and get all those clothes washed and that way you'll have some new clothes to wear starting tomorrow?" added Mr. Ken.

Back at the Cove, Mildred Johnston was still seething from the encounter earlier that morning. Her thoughts centered on how she was going to handle that little brat that came uninvited into 'her' house.

For the past seventeen months, or so, Mildred Johnston had been the Cove's Household Manager. She came to think of the place as her 'own domain' and that she was the 'true' master of the house. Ever since she began working at The Cove, whatever decision she made happened. She did have to concede some things to Momma Maria, right in the beginning, but she was happy not to have to deal with the buying of all the groceries and the planning of Mr. Ken's meals. Other than that, Millie Johnston controlled the household finances and arranged for the hiring and paying of all the other staff, as well as the contractors who took care of the grounds, and sundry other things as required.

She knew now she'd have to figure out a way to make that sniveling brat leave.

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