Three Finger Cove – Robert
Copyright © 2012 - 2015
All rights reserved
All rights reserved
The next morning Ken and Robert awakened to find the sun brightly shinning and not a cloud in sight. They quickly got cleaned up and then headed downstairs for breakfast.
Robert quickly filled his plate and sat down at a table ready to devour his breakfast. Mr. Ken, on the other hand, selected one self-made waffle, with butter and syrup, a muffin and a glass of orange juice and placed it down on the table where Robert sat.
"Oh, yea, I forgot my OJ," matter-of-factly stated Robert, who then suddenly shot up, and out of his chair, and headed to the orange juice dispenser.
All Mr. Ken could do is shake his head and smile at the lad. Chuckling, he got up to grab a cup of coffee that he couldn't carry to the table, as he only had two hands.
"Thanks for reminding me of my OJ, 'dad'," said Robert, when Ken finally sat down to eat his breakfast.
"Are you sure you want to eat all that, Robert? We are going back to Kemah Boardwalk to see if we can ride that rollercoaster before we have to head to the airport to catch our ride home," asked Mr. Ken.
"Why? Do you think I'll lose my breakfast to the roller coaster gods?" teasingly asked Robert.
"Have you ever ridden a rollercoaster? I think not … after what you told me last night at dinner. Let me say this about roller-coasters and wooden ones in particular. The 'woodies' as they are affectionately called in many circles …"
Immediately, at the use of the word 'woodies' Robert blushed red and began to giggle. Then, before long, his face got a great big smile on it and he had to pull his hand to his mouth to keep the food inside it, in.
It took Mr. Ken a few moments to understand what Robert was giggling about and he reached over the table and ruffled the lad's hair and lightly said, "Not those types of woodies' you naughty kid, you!" The man then smiled back at his smiling 'son'.
"As I was saying, before I was so rudely interrupted," began a smiling Mr. Ken, "wooden rollercoasters, also known as 'woodies', are known to shake, rattle and roll their occupants depending on where they sit. The wooden coaster is not known for its smooth ride but for its rough and sometimes 'wild' ride from the built-in sway the track develops. Also, as the coaster ages, the track can become pitted and that then means a rougher ride comes up through the wheels into you, the strapped in rider. But … the good side of a wooden coaster is the 'air time' one gets as he travels over the coaster hills. You can really feel yourself rise up and off the seat. That's called airtime. What a rush!"
"Is it really a rough ride, then 'dad'?" asked Robert.
"Well, as I said, it depends on where you sit – front, middle, or back. Each seat offers the rider a unique ride from where that seat is located on the train. I, myself, enjoy the front seat, and, if that is not available, then a seat in the first car. I find that that is where the smoothest wooden coaster ride is FOR me! Back when I was your age I totally enjoyed the back seat for the way it threw you around, bouncing you back and forth, and the extra airtime it gave you as you went over the hills. I thought it gave you more airtime than anyone else in the train," explained the man.
Robert sat there for a moment or two and then asked, "Is that train you talked about like the train that we saw taking people around the park yesterday?"
"Oh, you have so much to learn about rollercoasters, my boy," teased 'dad' Ken Thomas. "I can see if you like the Boardwalk Bullet today you will be hooked and will want to ride as many wooden and steel coasters as are out there. But, since you've never experienced a coaster before, I'd recommend you not eat any more than you have. I do not want to see you so sick you lose your breakfast in front a bunch of strangers. We can always stop at a fast food restaurant afterwards, if you want, and also know this, the flight attendant on the plane will feed us as we travel home. So you won't starve."
"Okay, I'll stop eating. I was getting too full anyway and sure don't want to embarrass myself in front of a bunch of people," replied Robert.
Ken finished his cup of coffee and then indicated to Robert they needed to head back to their room to clean up and get their bags ready, and out front, so Vince could load them up.
As Vince drove up to the front of the hotel, and saw his passengers waiting outside for him, he thought to himself, 'Am I late? I sure hope not as it will not look good on me and the company.' Quickly, Vince looked at the limo's digital clock and saw that he was eight minutes early and gave a welcomed sigh of relief.
"Morning, Vince," offered Mr. Ken.
"Good morning, Mr. Ken and you, too, Robert. It looks like the day you're leaving will be the best day of them all," replied Vince. "I've already called Kemah about their coaster and they said it should be opening around noon, barring any problems they find during their early morning testing."
"Thank you, Mr. Vince," spoke up Robert, before Mr. Ken could thank the man. "I know my 'dad' is really looking forward to riding that thing today."
"Oh, I thought it was YOU he wanted to ride it, if I am not mistaken," admitted the driver, Vince.
"Oh, yea, he wants me to ride it but I ain't riding that thing without him sitting right next to me," loudly responded Robert.
Both the driver and Mr. Ken had a good laugh over the lad's emphatic answer.
They arrived at Kemah Boardwalk about twenty-five minutes, after they departed the hotel. Vince dropped them off in front of the coaster, as he had done the evening before, and told Mr. Ken he'd be parked close by if he was needed.
The man and boy walked around the Bullet and looked it over as much as they could from their ground vantage point. They could tell the testing had begun as there was a train on the track and it sure was making loads of noise as it sped past where they were. Ken Thomas took the time then to explain to Robert what he meant by the word 'train' as it was used with rollercoasters. The man also took some time to explain some other inherent features of wooden coasters.
Since, there was still an hour before the coaster was scheduled to open, Mr. Ken went and bought wrist bands for them both so they could enjoy some of the other rides Kemah offered. He knew from previous experience that buying individual ride tickets would cost more than the wrist band and it offered the convenience of not having to wait in line to get the individual tickets.
Having already been on most of all the rides there at Kemah, 'dad' Ken encouraged Robert to pick and choose the rides he wanted to go on. It took Robert a few minutes of watching before deciding to ride the Ferris wheel.
What Mr. Ken didn't know, at the time, was that Robert had a fear of heights and was using the Ferris wheel to get a hold on that fear. Ken did notice the lad was not the usual happy camper he was on the ground, while they initially rode the 65-foot tall wheel. It wasn't until half-way through the ride that Robert began to look around more from the top of the wheel and thus talk more and more about what he wanted to do next.
From the Ferris wheel to the Wipeout to the Double-Decker Carousel, the man and lad enjoyed the rides. During all that time, Robert kept an eye on the higher rides trying to decide if he really wanted to go that high.
"Hey, kiddo," called out Mr. Ken to Robert, "I notice you are a bit apprehensive about a few of the rides. Is there something you're not telling me? Remember, we are using this weekend to get to know one another better and I can't help you if you don't tell me about it. So, what do you say there champ, how about telling you're new 'dad' what's the problem."
Robert just stood there, looking at Mr. Ken, after the man had asked his question. The twelve year old wasn't sure if he really wanted to tell the man he had a slight fear of heights, and was trying to slowly work his way up to riding the taller rides. It was as he was trying to decide what he wanted to do that he felt Mr. Ken guide him over to the Aviator.
The lad didn't hesitate to get into line as it was one of the next rides he was trying to work his way up to anyways. Since, it was still early in the day, they didn't have long to wait before they found themselves seated on the ride and soon slowly spinning and rising.
"So, Robert, when are you going to tell me you're afraid of heights?" said Mr. Ken, as they reached the top of the ride.
Robert just looked at the man and then down to the ground. He did that a few times before answering the man's question. "It's not that I am totally afraid of heights. It just … well, it takes me a while to get used to the idea of going up high. I was trying to start low and work my way up to the higher rides … like this one."
"Oh, okay, so what do you think about the height of this one, then?" asked Mr. Ken.
Robert looked down before responding, "I like this one just right." Then the lad laughed and continued by saying, "Now that you are with me it isn't so bad, but I don't think I'd have ridden this one all by myself. Are you gonna be mad at me because I'm a bit anxious about high places?"
"Oh, Robert, Robert, Robert … haven't you figured out yet that I won't ever be mad at you, especially for something you have little or no control over like … like your fear of heights, for example. I do wish you'd have said something to me about it before we came over here. I surely wouldn't want you to ride that rollercoaster if I knew you were afraid of heights," explained Mr. Ken.
"Anxious, NOT afraid," corrected Robert. "I don't have trouble flying in planes and climbing up the stairs of the battleship or looking out from the height of the monument it's just … well, there is something about doing it by myself. I guess, since I never had the opportunity to do stuff, as I was growing up. I never got the chance to build up my courage to heights. You're not going to be ma … err, disappointed with me are you?" finished an almost tearful pre-teen.
As they talked, they never realized the ride had slowed and was coming to a stop. It wasn't until the attendant came over to help them out of the ride they laughed at what just happened – they essentially missed the ride – so they dismounted and exited and found an empty bench to sit down.
Ken hugged the boy and then started out saying, "Robert … there is so much for each of us to know, learn and understand about each other. My bet would be you'll be graduating from college and we'll still never know the ins and outs of one another. The only way we'll ever overcome some of that is for each of us to ask questions and, at times like this for instance, we openly offer up tidbits about ourselves so there are no surprises.
"I am very happy that you understand your fear … oh, I'm sorry, I mean your anxiousness, about heights, and know how to work your way to going higher. I just hope you can overcome that feeling, one day, so you can ride every ride there is at any amusement park.
"And speaking of amusement parks, I guess this is as good a time as any for me to tell you that what I want to do is own amusement parks. I already own a few smaller parks that were going to close down because of lack of funds. I am in the process of getting them back into shape and we'll have to visit them this summer. So, what do you think about that revelation?" smiled Ken, as he asked that last question.
Robert returned the hug and then replied, "Well, Eric already told me that you were always looking to buy amusement parks, but he didn't know you actually owned some. I think that is so cool that you own a park similar to this one. I can't wait until we go visit them. And, thanks … for understanding my problem with heights."
The two hugged one another and, as Mr. Ken did so, he checked his watch and noticed it was five minutes past twelve noon. Recognizing the Boardwalk Bullet was supposed to open about noon time he stood up and told Robert to hurry so they could catch the first rides of the day.
The two travelers hurried to the Bullet's entrance only to find it still closed but with other people waiting in line, for when it did open. They quickly got into line and waited just as everyone else. It wasn't too long after that the chain across the entrance was taken down and the people quickly made their way up the steep walkway to the station.
At the entrance to the station, Mr. Ken explained to Robert that he wanted to wait for the front seat but Robert didn't want anything to do with the front most seats. He did acquiesce to riding the first car though, which made Mr. Ken happy.
When it was their turn, Robert got in first and then Mr. Ken sat down. They were in the first car, second seat right behind the front most seats. Sitting there waiting, Robert continued to think about his apprehension to heights and was wavering over his decision to ride the 92-foot high coaster. During all that time, what the lad didn't notice was the attendants checked the rider's restraints and then gave the signal to dispatch the 'train'.
"What? Whoa" loudly exclaimed Robert, as the coaster train made its way down the slight hill on its way to the lift chain.
"I'm not so sure I want to do this Mr. Ken!" yelled the youngster, over the noise the coaster wheels made along the steel tracks.
"It's a bit too late, 'son'. You should have said something before they released the brakes to allow the train to travel to the lift chain. From now on, we're all on here just for the ride. Listen Robert, try not to think about the height and just look at this as a fast, twisty train ride. As a matter of fact, after we get off the lift chain and make the turn to head down the first hill, I bet you won't even remember seeing how high the coaster actually gets. Now … try to relax and hold onto me if you need to, but just enjoy the ride," explained Mr. Ken, as the coaster train made the turn to the first drop hill.
As the coaster sped down the first hill and into the turn at the bottom of the hill and up through the second hill Robert found himself being pushed into his 'dad'. He felt the speed of the train and before he could comprehend it he found himself racing down another hill and back up yet another hill. He also found that, indeed, he couldn't tell how high he was as the coaster quickly twisted itself in and out of itself 42 times. It was then he began to enjoy the ride but, before long, the train came to a stop just outside of their starting point, the Station.
As the two travelers descended the walkway, to the ground, Mr. Ken decided he'd talk to Robert about his experience but before he could start the conversation, Robert turned to his 'dad' and said, "Can we do that again?"
"Sure," was all Ken could muster, as he led the lad around to the entrance, to being their walk back up the walkway, to the Station.
The line to ride the coaster was a bit longer, than their first wait, and while they waited Mr. Ken got Robert to talk about his experience and to explain why he wanted to ride again.
"Well, 'dad', I was a scared little rabbit up there and when you told me we were all along for the ride I didn't know what I'd do. But then … well, we raced down the first hill and back up the next before I could even think about it and, when I tried to, we were down the second hill and racing back up the next. By the third set of hills, I began to enjoy the speed and the quick turns and everything else, about the ride, and then before I could really grasp the ride, it was over.
"As for why I want to ride it again … well, I think I owe it to myself to actually participate this time and not flake out. Towards the end of the ride I realized I missed out on what should have been a fun ride, for me, but by then it was too late. Now, I want to do this again, for me, and the heck with my anxiousness, apprehension, or fear, if you will, about heights. I saw how well restrained we were and I hardly moved out of my seat, well except when we went into those hard left turns that pushed me into you. (Robert laughed at saying that.) So, 'dad' … well, I really NEED to do this for me to help me get over whatever it is so I can ride with you and possibly my friends, too, in the future," finished Robert.
When it came for their turn to ride the Boardwalk Bullet, Robert asked if they could ride the very front seats. He explained, he might as well get over all his fears at once or be relegated to missing out on the 'fun' things in life. On their turn, they actually did get to ride the front seats.
Before long, it was time for the travelers to call Vince and head up to the William P. Hobby Airport, to catch their ride back home.
During the flight back towards home, Robert and Mr. Ken discussed their two rides on the Boardwalk Bullet over dinner. By the time they arrived at San Antonio International Airport, the travelers agreed they needed to ride more amusement rides, but especially rollercoasters.
Their limousine driver, Derrick, waited for them as they deplaned. He collected their luggage and placed it into the trunk and before long they began the journey back to Three Finger Cove.
As they neared the Three Finger Cove entrance, Mr. Ken asked Derrick to stop near the mailbox so he could retrieve the weekend's accumulation of mail. Once back at his desk, Ken knew he needed to cull through all the mail and make a few phone calls. He was glad it wasn't too late to get much of it done.
Derrick began to place the luggage into the Foyer of The Cove but before he could even get the door fully open an anxious and overwhelmed dog, namely Chief, with her tail wagging a mile-a-minute, raced outside to greet her 'masters'. Chief first headed for Mr. Ken, and after a few scratches from him, she went directly to Robert who immediately knelt and scratched her behind her ears and told her what a good dog she was. In the meantime, Derrick had the luggage inside the Foyer, then he, too, scratched behind Chief's ears and then bid the travelers a 'Good Night' and left them to their own devices.
"Robert, how about first things first, we take our luggage to our rooms and unpack," offered Mr. Ken. "Make sure you put your dirty clothes in the wash and check what you have to wear for school tomorrow. Then, let's meet back in my Office and discuss what we have ahead of us during the coming week. You okay with that, young man?"
"Sure, no problem," replied the lad, who then picked up his luggage and headed up the stairs to his bedroom with Chief following close behind.
"Hello, Eric … … yea, we just got back. … … Yea, I had a great time with 'dad'. We did so much together. I even rode the Boardwalk Bullet. … … I loved it … after my first ride, that is. … … Well, I am anxious when I get close to high places and I wasn't really ready to ride the coaster, that first time, so I sort of missed much of the ride. By the time it was over I wanted to ride it again, so we did. … … You did, out in California and you love them too, awesome.
"We're gonna have to get 'dad' to take us to his amusement parks so we can ride the coasters there. … … Yes, he told me he owns a few and he was getting them fixed up to reopen. I'm not sure if it is this spring or early summer, he never said. … … Well, I better finish unpacking and get down to 'dad's' Study. … … He wants to talk about the coming week and what we both have in store. … … Okay, I'll see you on the bus tomorrow morning. Bye!"
When Ken entered his Office, he placed the mail, he just retrieved from the mailbox, and added it to a bunch of mail laying on his desk that Momma Maria must have gotten before she left for the day, on Friday. One piece of mail caught his eye, though, as it looked like an official letter from the courts. He remembered he submitted a request to take Robert on a Spring Break trip, out of Texas, and possibly out of the country at the same time. He remembered he submitted that particular request when he submitted to take Robert on this past weekend's trip. He knew he needed the courts permission to make any permanent arrangements and he truly hoped that was what awaited him inside the envelope.
Quickly taking the letter opener, Ken sliced through the end of the envelope and extracted the papers inside. The first thing he noticed when he went to the first page was that the letterhead showed it was not from Judge Adam Richards, the Presiding County Juvenile Court Judge, but from a Judge he never heard of. He quickly called Judy Turner.
"Judy, Ken … ... Oh, they did, it figures. … … Say, the reason I called is, I'm sorry to say this but this is a professional question in nature. … … No nothing like that. Robert and I had a great time together. I think we got a lot closer to one another. … … Well, it has something to do with a letter I received, from the court, but it isn't from Judge Richards.
"It's from some Judge I never heard of, a Randolph Terryman. I thought you might know something about it since I did request to take Robert on a Spring Break trip and I need the Court's permission. … … Oh, you didn't, so you know nothing about this? … … Well, it says Robert has to appear in this Judge's court on Wednesday at 10 AM. … … Yes, I will call Bill Jackson after we finish here. … … So, you'll check things out from your end and you'll let me know. … … Okay, I'll FAX the letter over to your office first thing tomorrow. Bye!"
Mr. Ken no sooner hung up with Judy than he dialed Bill Jackson's home phone number.
"Hello, Bill … Yes, we had a great time. Hey, listen, I'm sorry to call so late but I just found in my mail a Court Summons for Robert to appear in front of Judge Randolph Terryman on Wednesday at 10 AM. Do you know who this guy is and why he'd be interested in Robert? … … Oh, I see, so it may have to do with his parent's upcoming trials."
While Mr. Ken talked with Bill Jackson, Robert had entered the Office and sat down in one of the soft leather chairs. His ears did perk up when he heard his name mentioned and the fact he had to go to court. He felt his life go immediately into the dumps and began to silently cry. It wasn't until Mr. Ken heard his sniffles that he knew he had a problem he needed to head-off. Mr. Ken quickly explained to Bill what was going on, in his Study, so he hung up and went directly to the lad.
"Robert … I guess you heard me mention your name in regards to having to go to court this coming week. Listen, 'son', I have Ms. Judy and Bill, my lawyer, working on this to find out what, and why. We'll fight this every way we can. We knew that your parent's trails would eventually come up and that you may have to testify.
"Let's just hope that maybe this is a preliminary hearing, to make sure you are still available to testify, since you only just moved again right after the Holidays, and the court may have lost track of you," Ken said in trying to calm Robert down.
Robert's response, to everything Ken just told him, was to jump into the man's arms and hug him for everything he was worth. Ken returned the hug as firmly as he could without hurting the boy. The man was really getting attached to the lad, even if it had only been less than two months since his arrival at The Cove.
At bedtime, Robert was reluctant to lie down, as he was still filled with the fear of the unknown, as to why he had to go to court. Ken tried everything to get the lad to calm down, and go to sleep, but in the end he decided to sleep in the spare bed in Robert's room. Although the lad did sleep, it was a tortured sleep as Mr. Ken would describe it the next day to Dr. Doug Jennings, the lad's Child Psychologist, who had just began to try to help Robert as he had for Collin.
At school, Robert just went through the motions. Eric didn't know about the court appearance, he just figured his best friend was recuperating from his long weekend trip over to Houston. That was exactly what he told their friends when they asked about Robert.
Back at The Cove, Mr. Ken and Bill talked about this sudden turn of events and Bill suggested Mr. Ken hire Stewart Russell, the Juvenile Lawyer Specialist, they used with Collin. In the meantime, Ms. Judy couldn't find out any reason for Judge Terryman to have anything to do with Robert, as the man's court wasn't remotely involved with his parent's situation.
Judy did call Judge Adam Richards, the Presiding County Juvenile Court Judge, but she was told the judge was involved in court and could not be interrupted. She left an urgent message explaining the situation with the judge's secretary and asked him to call her, at any time, at either work or at home. Once she hung up with the secretary, she quickly called Mr. Ken and told him what she did.
Later, after school, Mr. Ken sat down with Robert and told him everything he, Ms. Judy and Bill Jackson tried to do to find out the reason behind his court appearance the following day. Robert thanked him for everything and then said he was going to go up to his room to take a nap as he felt really tired.
As Robert slowly made his way up the stairs, Mr. Ken called to him and reminded him that dinner would be ready in about 90 minutes and that Doctor Doug would be by to talk with him. That last comment stopped Robert in his tracks and he turned and looked at his new 'dad'.
"Is he coming over because of what's gonna happen to me tomorrow," the slightly teary eyed pre-teen asked.
"NO, he's NOT coming over to do that!" Mr. Ken said, a bit abruptly. Then he modified his voice and told Robert, "Doc Doug is coming over because it is Tuesday but, yes, mostly, because I did mention to him about tomorrow. I want him to sit and talk to you to see if he can get you to relax a bit more and … well, I just want you to be you tomorrow
"I don't want you to worry about it and, I think, talking to Doc Doug, instead of me, can help you work through some feelings you're having about all this. And remember, he can't tell me about anything you tell him, unless you say it is okay for him to do so. So, go ahead and take a quick nap. I'm sure it will help you feel better. I'll send Chief up to get you when it is time to eat."
After hearing what Mr. Ken had to say, Robert turned around on the stairs and continued his slow walk up to his bedroom. Then, three steps later, Robert turned back around and hurried down the stairs and ran to his 'dad' and hugged him for all he was worth.
When he was finished, Robert looked up into his 'dad's' eyes and told the man, "Thank you, 'dad' for doing that for me. I like Doc Doug and I hope he can settle me down enough to get me through tomorrow. I just wish I knew why I had to go there!"
"So do I, 'son'; so do I!" replied 'dad' Ken.
That night Robert did sleep a bit more soundly and it was due to what he and Doc Doug talked about that evening after dinner. Robert was extremely happy his 'dad' had gotten the man to come over and talk to him. He felt more at ease over tomorrow's date with the unknown judge, but he still felt a bit apprehensive, though.