Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Charles
Book III

by Chowhound

In Progress

Chapter 8

Published: 13 Oct 16

Three Finger Cove - Charles

Copyright © 2016 by Chowhound
All Rights Reserved

From Previous Chapter:

"Come on Charles," said Collin, as he tugged at the younger lad's shoulder, "let me show you the stuff you need to know if you never want to go hungry in this house." Collin then laughed and the two 'brothers' walked out of the Study.

Seven to eight minutes later, Collin and Charles returned to Mr. Ken's Study each carrying a coke and three or four cookies. They also brought a few dog treats for Chief, which she began to enjoy. The lads then sat down in one of those very soft leather chairs to enjoy their own snacks.

To Mr. Ken, it was obvious the boys were back from all the commotion they made with their talking to Chief and sitting down. The man looked up, but especially at Collin, and smiling said, "Did you bring me any?"

Collin didn't have a chance to answer because the phone rang. It was Dan Fischer.

All the Covers – Mr. Ken, Collin, Robert, Charles and Chief – could do, after Mr. Ken's earlier call to Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer, was to wait for word from the Deputy Sheriff about the stakeout of the locations Larry 'Smokey' Masson and his Satan's Devil's motorcycle gang were possibly going to be meeting at.

While Collin and Robert took Charles down to the basement to show the lad the hiding place Collin used, the four Satan's Devil's members, Patrick 'Spider' Pearce, Jacob 'Butcher' Cook, Jody 'Greaser' Franks and Paige 'Chickee' Perrie, who tried to gain access into The Cove, the night of the carnival, with 'Smokey' Masson, had all been independently located and were now being closely watched by undercover officers from the county sheriff's office. The hope was that one or all of them would eventually lead the police teams to where Masson would meet up with them.

While the gang members were being watched and followed, stakeouts at the probable meeting locations were now in place. Those now watched potential meeting places were made possible by using the information obtained through the interview, that afternoon, with Charles James Lewis. Learning about the most probable locations that Larry 'Smokey' Masson might head for, back at Sheriff Barnes headquarters, the sheriff and his investigators devised plans, to watch all three most likely places that Charles figured Lawrence Masson would go into hiding at.

As the covert officers followed the Satan's Devils members, the stakeout officers maintained their watch of the three probable meeting places where they hoped Larry Masson would show. While that was all happening, DA George Morris was at his office concocting his 'apprehension' speech for when the monster Larry 'Smokey' Masson and his gang were caught and placed into custody. George Morris had been planning his campaign for the fall elections but with the appearance of this small time crook, and kidnapper and possible murderer, he felt he was going to be able to use this to get a surge in his name recognition, throughout the county, and get him well prepared for the fall election.

Back at Sheriff Headquarters, Sheriff Matthew Barnes, Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer and Sheriff Detective Sergeant Brandt Matthias listened to the police chatter that revolved around the surveillance officers and the stake-out teams. Sheriff Detective William Roberts, who normally worked with Sergeant Matthias, volunteered for and had been placed in charge of one of the stake-out teams. Now, all that anyone could do was wait.

As the surveillance teams located the gang members, one-by-one, and began to follow them, their calls back to the Sheriff's Command Post brought the anticipation of a successful operation to the forefront. The people back at headquarters began to predict what would eventually happen, but Sheriff Barnes reminded them that the operations was far from over and told them to concentrate on their jobs and that they could celebrate when it was definitely all over. Matthew Barnes knew he now needed to keep the Command Post team more focused on their jobs, so there would be no chance of a last minute snafu.

Over at The Cove, Eric called Robert and wanted to know if he could come over. Robert checked with his 'dad', but the man said, "No, not this time." Robert told Eric what he knew about what was happening and that they were relegated to being inside right then and wouldn't know what was going to happen until it did. Robert did tell Eric that from what Charles told the police earlier that afternoon that the Sheriff and his deputies were probably out searching for Smokey and his gang, as they spoke. Eric wasn't too happy for Robert about being made to stay inside, but he was especially happy for Charles in that he hoped the man, who tried to kidnap his new 'brother', would soon be caught. The two Best Friends said they would try to stay in contact as the night moved along.

The first report of a possible meeting place was relayed back to the Command Post when the tailing officers reported that Patrick Pearce and Jody Franks had eventually met. The two teams of undercover officers were surprised they both followed their assignment to the gas station at Four Corners. Hearing that news made Dan Fischer nervous and afraid they would all attack The Cove and there would be a repeat of what happened more than three years ago.

Then another report came in from the other undercover officer teams. Their reports had Jacob Cook and Paige Perrie meeting at a fast food restaurant located more than five miles away from the initial two gang members meeting place. Back at the Command Post, the two separate meetings and widely spaced locations didn't make sense to Sheriff Barnes. He instructed the teams to remain hidden and keep their people of interest under surveillance.

Then more reports came in saying the two groups made some phone calls and that they were now all in motion. As the teams followed along, it became evident, at the Command Post, that the two groups were now headed in the same general direction. Twenty minutes later, Sheriff Barnes learned the four gang members had both arrived at the same place. The location was an old biker's bar that the covert officers did not dare enter, as their present mode of dress would not allow them to fit in with the crowd. All Sheriff Barnes could tell them to do was to cover all the exits and wait for the four to make their next move.

The officers diligently watched the bar for any movement and then approximately forty minutes later, two gang members exited the bar on the side of the building, while the other two exited out front. It was noted they had exchanged vehicles in a possible attempt to throw off anyone who might be tailing them. The officers continued to tail the gang members at a respectable distance and speed. After fifteen minutes it became apparent the two vehicles were headed in the same direction, which happened to be towards the location Detective Roberts had been assigned.

Anticipation grew, at the Command Post, that they would soon be able to apprehend Larry Masson and his gang. Again, Sheriff Barnes had to reign in his officers and get them to focus on the job at hand. The Sheriff then called Detective Roberts and again reviewed what the rules of engagement would be used in the apprehension of Larry 'Smokey' Masson and his gang. The Sheriff wanted to make sure there would be no excuse for a failure to take the whole gang in custody, and in one piece.

The four gang members did indeed arrive at the location that was staked out by Detective Roberts, but there was no sign of Lawrence Masson. Then, not more than five minutes later another vehicle pulled up to the location, but the person did not get out, but continued to slowly drive away. Seven minutes after that, that same vehicle was seen coming in the back way to the house. This time the occupant, stopped, got out, and quickly went to the back door and let himself inside.

There were now a total of eleven sheriff deputies, the eight who had followed the gang members plus the three stakeout sheriff deputies now surrounding the house. Sheriff Detective William Roberts wondered if there were too many officers present in order to safely conduct the intended raid and subsequent arrest of Larry Masson. He'd only ever been on such assignments when there were just four officers and he wasn't sure that if there was a fire fight that one of the deputies wouldn't get hurt. Even though Detective Roberts had some misgivings, he didn't contact Sheriff Barnes for further instructions. What the Detective did do, though, was to organize the assembled officers into four teams of three or four and spread them out on all four sides of the house. Then, he waited for Lawrence Masson to leave the house so they could arrest him.

The day was moving on and the daylight was beginning to wane. Detective William Roberts knew the chances of having a very successful raid went down as the daylight faded away. He had hoped the Satan's Devils would exit the house, and soon, so they could apprehend them without a firefight. The reason they wanted to wait was they had no idea of the firepower the gang might have inside the house and if they attempted the raid and got into a gun battle the officers would be without cover. Even with bullet-proof vests the officers would still be open to disabling wounds to their extremities.

Sheriff Barnes decided to call Detective Roberts to get a SITREP, or a situation report, on the stakeout of Masson's hideout. Detective Roberts gave a description of the house, its surroundings and the way he deployed his officers as they setup for the apprehension of Masson and his cronies. That cell phone call by Sheriff Barnes, though, couldn't have come at a worse opportune time. With Detective William Roberts distracted by the call, he put down his communications radio and thus lost immediate contact with his fellow officers. It was while the two men talked that there was some movement at the front door to the house.

One of the gang members, Jody 'Greaser' Franks, exited the dwelling and began walking to one of the vehicles when one officer stepped out front behind his cover and tried to take the man into custody. Even though Roberts tried to wave off the officer's attempt to arrest Jody Franks, the officer, and the other members of his group, had their full attention on the gang member and couldn't see the lead detective's attempt to stop them. As soon as Jody Franks heard, then saw, the sheriff's deputy step out from behind his cover, he drew a handgun and began to fire.

Barnes could hear the gun fire in the background as Detective Roberts had put down the cell phone in his attempt to stop one of his fellow officers from taking Jody 'Greaser' Franks into custody. The officer's team members fired back in support of the first officer but Franks was able to get back inside the house. Sheriff Barnes kept yelling into the cell phone but Detective Roberts had advanced to provide additional support. Unfortunately, the officer who attempted to make the arrest was wounded in his lower leg as he made an effort to return to his cover. From that point on all hell broke loose and things quickly went to hell in a hand basket.

The five gang members all grabbed their weapon of choice and they made sure the sheriff deputies knew what they had. The Satan's Devils began firing out to where the initial contact was made but were quick to change tactics when they began to receive fire from all the other sides of the house.

Detective Roberts made his way back to his original cover and his first order of business was to retrieve his two-way radio and get in contact with his whole surveillance team. He ordered them to cease fire and take defensive positions. The detective then recovered the dropped cell phone and hoped the sheriff was still on the line.

"Roberts … tell me what is going on there!" yelled Sheriff Barnes.

"Sir, Jones attempted to apprehend one of the gang members without prior approval by me. He went from behind his cover and approached the gang member and attempted to apprehend him without authorization and without the support of his group members," explained Roberts. "Also … he was hit by gunfire and is now being attended to by his team. I have an ambulance en route to the scene

"On top of all that, sir," began William Roberts, "the gang member was able to return to the house where he, and the other people inside, opened fire on us. The other officers, upon hearing and seeing the gunfire coming from the house, began to return fire at the house. I've subsequently had the team holding fire. What are your orders, sir?"

Sheriff Barnes told Roberts to maintain the scene and he would send additional help. He also told the detective to have some of his men go door to door and get any local residents out of their homes and to use their back doors and alley ways.

Detective William Roberts first assessed the situation. He saw there were no shots being fired and the house seemed quiet. He then got on his radio and had two men from each of the unaffected teams begin to notify the residents to what was happening and to order them to leave via their back doors and alleys. He then told the officers to establish a perimeter until additional manpower arrived.

Sirens could be heard all over the area. The ambulance was the first emergency vehicle to arrive but because it was an active shooting zone the ambulance EMT and driver would not enter the area. They required the injured police officer be brought out to them. Reluctantly, Detective Roberts had two of the remaining officers help the injured officer out to where the ambulance was located.

Inside the house, it was as if the gang members knew what was going to happen. As soon as Masson saw the injured deputy, and two others, make their way down the street to the waiting ambulance he ordered his four followers to make a diversion. He had two of his cohorts wait at the back door and the other two at the front. He told them at his signal they would all head to their vehicles and high tail it out of the area and eventually meet at his special hideout.

While the gang was gathering up extra ammunition and getting themselves ready to break out, Team Leader Roberts recalled a few of the men who were notifying the neighbors. He had them redeploy away from their initial cover points, and wait. They didn't have to wait long.

On Masson's signal, two Satan's Devils burst out the back door while the other two exploded out the front door. The two gang groups came out firing. One member came out the front door and had a Mini Draco 7.62 x 39mm Semi-automatic Romanian AK Pistol while the other had an AR-15, Semi-automatic. Both weapons had been modified into automatics so the firepower they had was overwhelming. Tragically, for them, their gun fire was sent towards the hiding place where the officers were once concealed.

Even though they were not prepared for the unexpected action by the Satan's Devils, the officers remained poised and returned fire from their new positions. The two gang members, who went out the front door, were immediately shot and went down when the deputies returned fire.

The other two Satan's Devils members, who made their way out the back door, used a Smith & Wesson M&P15 MOE and an AK-47 to try to make their escape. They came out firing to where they thought the deputies were located but they found out they were wrong. Neither got as far as their intended getaway vehicle as they were repeatedly hit by the stake-out officer's returned gun fire.

All the while the events unfolded out on the street, Lawrence 'Smokey' Masson had waited for the officers to be distracted by his associates before he attempted his lone breakout. Masson used the deputy's preoccupation of sorting out what just happened with his companions. Then, with nightfall on its way, Smokey used both the distraction and the darkening skies to slowly slip out a secluded side door. He then slowly walked towards a vehicle that none of his companions, or he, used to get there. He walked as if he belonged there; like he lived in the neighborhood.

A sheriff's deputy saw a man, out of the corner of his eye, walking towards a car within the cordoned off area, and told him to stop and wait there. The officer wanted to make sure the man hadn't been injured by any of the gun fire. Unbeknownst to the officer, that man was Larry Masson. Smokey stopped and slowly turned, as if he was complying with the deputy's order, and then he opened fire, hitting the officer in the upper chest. The drug runner and kidnapper and possible murderer then jumped into the motor vehicle and sped away, but not before another deputy was able to fire several shots at the fleeing car.

Sheriff Deputy Detective William Roberts got on the police radio and called in an APB, all-points bulletin, on the make, model and partial license tag of the departing sedan. He then added the description of the perpetrator, what he looked like, what he was wearing and that he may have been wounded. The detective then called for additional ambulances for the injured gang members and the second wounded officer.

Over at the Sheriff Headquarters Command Post, Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer heard the call for the APB and the description of the escaping criminal. While Sheriff Barnes ordered additional deputies to head to the area to search for the suspect, Dan Fischer decided that it would be prudent to make a special phone call so he stepped out of the room and pulled out his cell phone.

The phone at The Cove rang and Mr. Ken answered it and learning it was Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer he told the man he was going to put the call on the speaker so the boys' could listen in.

"Mr. Ken, boys, and you too Chief, if you're listening … They attempted to capture Larry Masson, AKA Smokey, and his gang. There was a shootout. Two of Masson's gang are dead and the other two are seriously wounded and we believe Smokey is wounded, too. But … well, he got away.

"He must have already had set up an extra getaway car because … well, not too long after the firefight went into a standstill a man walked out to a waiting car that none of the gang members had driven to their hide away. An officer saw a man walking towards a vehicle and wanted to talk to him, so he told the man to stop. The man appeared to stop, but then all of a sudden he turned and … and he opened fire. There was some shooting … the officer went down and then the man, who we now believe was Smokey Masson, then sped away.

"We also believe Smokey Masson may have been wounded as there was a good amount of blood on the ground near where the car was parked. Another deputy saw what was happening and he jumped into his vehicle and quickly followed but … well, he had shots fired at him and he lost control of his vehicle and crashed. We have no idea where Smokey Masson is now," revealed Dan Fischer.

"Mr. Ken … I'd recommend you get Charles, and the other boys, and get away from The Cove as fast as you can. If this man 'Smokey' is as dead set about getting at Charles, as he seemed to be, then we all expect Masson to head in your general direction. Mr. Ken … I'm sending a couple of cars to your place. They should be there in less than ten minutes. Let the guys at the gate know! Okay, Mr. Ken?" suggested the Deputy Sheriff.

"Dan … I want you to know that I AM going to protect my home … just as I did back three years ago. I'll tell the guards at the gate to watch for your men and for Masson, BUT … I will not send these boys out of here without an armed escort. In the meantime, they'll be safe, here, in the hidey-hole that Collin used three years ago, if necessary, until the cavalry arrives," replied Ken Thomas.

Dan Fischer knew Mr. Ken would not run away from this situation, so he told the man to take care of himself, and the boys, and to not take any chances that would put him or the lads into jeopardy. Then, Dan told the man, "Good Luck!" and hung up.

The boys all had disbelief in their faces after they heard what Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer just told their Big Bro, or 'dad'. They all looked to the owner of The Cove for some guidance as to what they should do now.

"Boys … you heard Dan. Okay, now, what we ARE going to do first is NOT panic. Yes, he said they believe that Smokey is headed this way but … you also heard, so are some additional sheriff deputies and Jules has promised me additional armed security guards. You all know where the Safe Room is and if, or when, there is a need I want you ALL to head there. Do you understand what I just said?" expounded Ken Thomas.

The lads all looked at one another and then Collin spoke up and replied, "Yes, Mr. Ken ... we all understand. But … will you come with us, too?"

Mr. Ken looked at the lads and said, "Collin … Robert and Charles … I am going to protect my home … and the people, who I love, who are inside it. And, yes I was shot the first time, I had someone attack this place, but I want you to know … he got off a lucky shot. But, I don't think it will come down to that this time. You heard Dan. Smokey's gang was taken down. Two of them are dead, two are in custody, and it is only Smokey Masson who is left.

"There will be more sheriff deputies and armed security guards here soon and they can protect the main entrance and where ever else on the ground there may be any chance that the man could get onto the property. I want you all to stay together. And, if it comes to a point that I feel you are in danger … well, then I'll send you to the Safe Room. You all got that?" asked Mr. Ken.

The lads said they understood what he said and what he wanted them to do.

"Now, I don't want you to be alarmed but … well, I am going back to my bedroom and arm myself, as I did three years ago. I didn't use my weapon then and I don't expect to have to use it now … but I do want to be able to protect you and my home," explained the Cove's owner. "I'll be right back,"

Robert looked at his 'big brother' Collin and asked, "Is there anything we can do?"

Collin thought about the question, for a few moments, and then replied, "NO … not really. And even if we did try to help out, somehow, without talking to or asking Mr. Ken he'll … well, I'm not sure what he would do but it probably wouldn't be good. Let's just do what he wants. He is so focused on doing what he feels is right that … I'm afraid if we do something to distract him it could mean either he, or one of us, could get hurt. Robert … Charles … you do understand what I said, don't you?"

After a few moments, a teary eyed Charles declared, "If it weren't for me … you two, and Mr. Ken, and Chief here, wouldn't have to worry about being killed."

While at the same time Charles was speaking, Robert sulked, "Yeah, but … there's got to be something we can do."

"Yes, there is, and it is to do as I want you to do," spoke up Ken Thomas, as he reentered the Study with a Glock 20 in a holster attached to his side.

Robert's eyes got wide as he saw the holster with the large handgun on his 'dad's' side. Charles just stood up and then stared at the gun. As for Collin, he wasn't a bit surprised his Big Bro brought out the same weapon the man had used the day he was shot.

"Guys, the sheriff's deputies should be here soon. When they arrive, I'll go out and talk to them. When the additional armed security guards arrive, I'll do the same. Together, the deputies and guards and I will decide on a course of action to not only protect you guys but The Cove, as well. I want you to know … I will not send you down to the Safe Room unless it appears it is absolutely necessary," fully clarified Mr. Ken.

"You mean we get to sit here and watch what happens," asked a somewhat now excited Charles.

"Well … I hope there isn't anything for you guys to watch except, for maybe, the deputies and guards walking around the grounds. But, if there is an attack by Smokey then you three are to immediately head downstairs. You got that?" said a smiling Big Bro and 'dad'.

"You're no fun, 'da', ahh, Mr. Ken. I want to be able to watch as Smokey gets gunned down but I won't be able to if you send us to the Safe Room," lightly pouted a smiling Charles.

Charles' smiling pout was what they all needed right then to help break the tension that had entered the room. And, hearing his newest foster son say what he did, Mr. Ken went to the lad and grabbed him in a big hug. He then motioned for Robert to join them and soon Collin was there as well.

The phone's ringing broke up the Covers 'hug fest' as Mr. Ken went to answer it. "Hello. … Oh … It's you! Collin … it's Ryan. How about you explain to him what we've been doing these past six or seven hours."

Collin took over the phone and he and Ryan talked for a few minutes. Collin explained they were just waiting to hear from the Sheriff. Collin told Ryan that Charles had told the Sheriff and the DA where his kidnapper might go into hiding and they hoped the deputies were out looking for the man and his gang. Collin then told his Best Friend that he wanted to leave the phone line open in case the Sheriff wanted to talk to them. The two agreed they'd talk later and Collin hung up the phone.

The phone rang as soon as Collin hung up the handset so he answered it. Learning it was the security guard at the gate, he gave the phone to Mr. Ken. It was then the owner of The Cove learned the sheriff's deputies had arrived and were driving through the main gates as they spoke. That caused the man to hang up the instrument and head out of the Study and to the outside. The lads just looked out the Study's windows and watched as the deputies and Mr. Ken talked. As that group discussed what they were going to do, the added armed security guards arrived and the whole group got together and started the discussion all over again.

It took the gathered men about ten minutes to decide and agree on their course of action. With that done, the two groups headed to their respective defensive positions. As the deputies and security guards headed off, Mr. Ken came back inside and into his Study.

"Mr. Ken … what are they going do?" Charles wanted to know.

Mr. Ken smiled at the twelve year old's inquisitiveness and explained to all three lads the security guards would continue to man and guard the main entrance and along the two fence walls leading off the gate. The owner of The Cove then explained the deputies would spread out along the extended shore line and dock and watch for Smokey to possibly arrive from the direction of the lake. With that said, the Covers all waited.

The sun had already set and it was getting late and there was still no sign or word about Lawrence 'Smokey' Masson, or his whereabouts. The lads were complaining about being hungry, but Mr. Ken was reluctant to allow Collin to take his 'brothers' out of The Cove's grounds. The older teen wanted take his 'brothers' to the Four Corner's Diner for something to eat, but Mr. Ken wouldn't allow it without an armed escort. He just directed the boys to head to Momma Maria's kitchen and look for something to fend off their hunger pains.

Even Chief was antsy about staying inside, for such a long time, but at least she could go outside and do her business whenever she wanted. The two younger lads saw Chief was allowed to go outside, whenever she wanted, and lamented that fact to their 'dad'. All Mr. Ken would say was they didn't need to use the nearest tree or wood pile but they had perfectly good toilet, in any number of rest rooms, inside The Cove. Then all he would do is laugh at the boy's supposed predicament.

Eventually, the lads did go and raid Momma Maria's refrigerator and panty. They brought back some soup and sandwiches and cold drinks. They even brought something back for Mr. Ken, this time. It was Charles who remembered Chief and brought her some doggie treats and her water bowl. All Chief did was give Charles a few extra doggie kisses for his thinking about her. Even Mr. Ken was impressed that it was Charles, the lad who had been there the shortest time, who had thought enough to remember that Chief was one of 'them', a Cover.

It was just a few minutes past ten in the evening when the phone at Mr. Ken's desk in the Study rang. The Cove's owner quickly punched the speaker phone button so all the boys could hear what there was to be said.

"Hello," began Mr. Ken.

"Mr. Ken, Dan here. I've got an update for you that I think you and the boys will be very happy to hear. Am I on the speaker?" started Dan Fischer, a Deputy Sheriff and Section Commander.

"Yes, Dan, the boys and I, and Chief, are all ears," answered Mr. Ken.

"Okay, here goes," started off Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer. "We got him. We got Lawrence "Smokey' Masson in custody!"

The boys, but especially Charles, all yelled at the revelation that they no longer had to stay inside The Cove any longer. Then, Mr. Ken asked the boys to lower it down so they could hear what else Dan had to say.

"What was all that noise?" teased Dan Fischer.

"The boys were ecstatic about your good, no, very good news. Do you have anything else to tell us?" inquired The Cove's owner.

"Yes, I do, if you all want to know how it all happened," remarked the Deputy Sheriff.

"Go ahead, Dan," said Ken Thomas.

"Okay, here's what we know. We found the car 'Smokey' Masson took off in. It was found near the lake shore but the funny part was … there were no docking facilities nearby. We couldn't figure why he'd go there unless … unless he had another mode of transportation ready and waiting. Then, it dawned on us … the boat … the boat he took off in, the other night, was never recovered and we then figured he may have wanted to use it to get, you know, to your place that way.

"We then called on the Game Wardens to give us a hand in searching the lake waters for the missing boat. The problem with that is those guys don't usually carry. It took time for us to get a few deputies over to their dock but we did get people out on the lake and began our search.

"While they were out searching, they began to get reports there was a boat out in the middle of the lake, which was going around in circles. I came to later learn it was located less than a mile from your area. The reports said that a few boats had attempted to board it but couldn't because it was going too fast to safety board it. In the meantime, they called the Lake Water Safety and Rescue Team to check it out.

"It was when the Rescue guys did board and finally stop the runaway boat that they found an unconscious man, lying on the deck, and bleeding, from what looked like a gunshot wound. When the Game Wardens and Deputies arrived, they searched the boat and found the injured man had a stash of weapons on board. Doing a further check, they recognized what the man was wearing. He had on, what looked like, the clothes the APB Detective Roberts sent out. They then concluded that it was the man at the shootout back at the Satan's Devils house, so they hurried him to a waiting ambulance. We are all waiting for his prognosis. He was in surgery when I decided to call you all," finished up Dan Fischer.

The group in the study was still very happy that Smokey Masson had been caught. Everyone, that is except Charles. The lad was initially happy, that he didn't have to wonder if Smokey would ever come to get him, but then he realized how much trouble he had caused. That thought caused the boy to sit down and begin to cry.

Ken Thomas saw that his newest foster son, Charles, was sitting by himself and was also crying. He went over and sat next to the boy and asked, "Charles ... why are you crying, son? I thought you'd be very happy over Smokey's capture. Now, you don't have to worry about him! So, tell me … why are you so sad looking and crying?"

Charles looked up to his new foster father's eyes and then jumped into the man's arms. "I caused all this to happen. … I don't deserve to live here anymore. If it weren't for me … you all wouldn't have been put into danger from Smokey and his gang. I'm so sorry 'da', Mr. Ken. I wish I could have done something to make it all go away." It was then that Charles hugged the man for all he was worth

"Charles, Charles … if it hadn't happened here it would have happened somewhere else. It was just a matter of time that Smokey would have found you. You heard him the night of the carnival. He said he'd wondered if he'd ever find you and everybody, including your mom, didn't know where they sent you. It was just plain luck that Smokey and his minions found you as they did. But the bottom line is it is also that same luck you were here so we could protect you from him

"Think of it this way. If you had been at any other home … they would have just forced their way in and took you. There is no telling what they would have done to the family you were staying with. So, now … I don't want you to fret over something you had no control over. For right now, everything is under control. So, what say you dry up those tears and … and be that happy boy who was celebrating Smokey's capture just a few minutes ago?"

Charles listened to what the man had to say and then hugged him even harder. He couldn't ever remember being hugged by a guy, a dad type, this much ever before and he was beginning to enjoy having the man's strong arms wrapped around him. After a few moments, Charles pulled back from the hug and thanked Mr. Ken for everything he'd done for him. The two then released from their hug and joined up with Collin and Robert.

"So, 'dad', do you think it would be safe for us to go over to the Diner and get something good to eat?" asked Robert.

"Let me check with Dan before we go heading off and there are other members of Smokey's gang out there. Okay?" retorted Mr. Ken.

Ken Thomas called Deputy Sheriff Dan Fischer and asked the man about any further precautions he and the boys needed to take. Dan told them he would prefer that they stayed inside for the remainder of the evening so they could check out the remaining places Charles told them about. Dan said they wanted to make sure they didn't uncover any additional names who may have an interest in finding out where Charles was. Mr. Ken thanked the man and turned around to the assembled boys and told them Dan's reply. The boys were not happy.

"I guess that means I can't go and get my new clothes, either," lamented Charles.

Ken Thomas went to the lad and pulled him into a hug and said, "Charles, you see how late it is and it isn't like you don't have anything to wear, for now. But, I do promise you … we'll go and get you some new clothes and whatever else you may need."

Robert then asked if the additional things included a suitcase or two and either boxers or briefs.

Those questions brought a round of laughter and a few explanations by what Robert meant. Then, Collin got into the discussion how his Big Bro got him more suitcases before his Disney Cruise. Robert then explained how his mean 'dad' wouldn't tell him, nor Eric, where they were going for Spring Break. Collin also told his 'brothers' how his Big Bro did the same to him. All those comments brought back memories of the three 'brothers'' cruises and so they then began to tell Charles what happened to them while on their cruises.

Collin told Charles about his almost 'abduction' and Robert told his new 'brother' about the lady who kept following them. The two teens then told Charles about Colt and Jerry and how they all became friends. Hearing all those revelations and their final results got Charles out of his funk and brought about many more questions by him and further explanations. Not only did Collin and Robert tell how they saw their trips but Mr. Ken added his 'few cents', too.

It was past eleven o'clock when they all began to feel the stresses of the day and from the evening before begin to catch up with them. Those feelings caused the Covers to yawn and stretch their arms and legs some and they all decided that maybe they should head to bed. Mr. Ken hugged all the lads before they headed upstairs. Chief took her time to get outside to relieve herself and when she came back into the Great Room, she headed over to the elevator and used that to get up to the boys room. Robert and Charles decided to sleep in the same room that night.

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