Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Robert
Book II

by Chowhound


Chapter 10

Published: 9 Jul 15

Three Finger Cove – Robert

Copyright © 2012 - 2015
by Chowhound
All rights reserved

The next morning, Robert woke up with Chief licking his face.

Smiling as he awoke, he offered, "Thank you, Chief, for waking me, but I thought I set my alarm clock!"

Looking to the clock, Robert saw he set it up for PM not AM and was happy that Chief had awakened him. Then, seeing it was almost 6:45 in the morning, the lad got out of bed, hugged the dog and petted her some and then went to the bathroom to get ready for school.

Entering the kitchen twenty-five minutes later, dressed in his new clothes, Robert was greeted with a "Good morning, sport" from Mr. Ken. "You sure are looking handsome and wide awake to boot."

"Thank you Mr. Ken. I slept very good last night. I think from all that happened and what we did it tired me out so I slept like a log last night. If it weren't for Chief I'd probably still be sleeping," replied Robert.

"Oh?" asked the man.

"Yea, I mean yes, sir," corrected Robert remembering what Mildred said about respect. "I wasn't careful when I set my clock and I made a mistake and set it for PM and not AM. Chief came and licked my face some to wake me. I saw it was almost 6:45 so I got up and took a shower. Thank you again for all the new clothes you bought me. I really like them and I know I won't look too out of place at school today."

When Momma Maria saw the boy was finished talking to Mr. Ken, she asked the boy what he wanted for breakfast. She offered breakfast bacon and egg tacos and orange juice and/or milk or bacon and scrambled eggs and orange juice and/or milk. Hearing he loved breakfast tacos, Momma smiled and began to get some ready for the newest member of Three Finger Cove.

"So, are you ready for your first day at school?" kiddingly asked Mr. Ken.

"Yep!" responded a smiling Robert, knowing Mr. Ken was teasing him.

"That's good to hear. For today, I'll drive you to the school. Then, when we get there, we can go get your bus schedule so you'll have it," spoke Mr. Ken.

"Thanks for the ride this morning. But, don't you remember, I got my bus schedule when you registered me, so I can catch the bus home after school. It's too late for me to catch the bus this morning, though, since I didn't set my alarm clock right," teased the lad.

Ken smiled at the boy and at the lad's teasing him back. He was glad the boy wasn't going on the defensive at being in another new home after what transpired to him over the past year. The man was inwardly thanking his lucky stars that the preteen was adapting so well; even after what happened the day before.

When the newest member of the Cove was finished eating breakfast, he thanked and then hugged Maria. Then looking to his new foster dad, Robert asked, "What time will we leave for school?"

"Hmmm," verbalized Mr. Ken as he choked back some coffee. "Thanks for reminding me, I forgot about the time. Sorry, I must have been thinking about what time Collin and Ryan used to catch the bus. You do start a bit earlier than the high school kids don't you? Okay, let's get our coats on and I'll meet you in the garage."

They made it to the school just as the first bell rang for the students to get to their homerooms. The two members of the Cove said their goodbyes and each went their separate ways.

Back at the Cove, Mr. Ken called Doctor Doug Jennings to make an appointment for Robert. The secretary said the doctor would call him back when he finished with his current patient. That way they could discuss what sort of treatment the boy might need. Twenty minutes later Doug Jennings called Mr. Ken back.

At school, Robert was introduced to the members of his homeroom and was asked to tell them something about himself. Initially, Robert stood there like a deer in the headlights. He didn't know what to say but then it dawned on him; 'they don't know anything about me, so, whatever I say they'll accept. I hope.'

Doug and Ken talked at length about Robert and what was it that Mr. Ken wanted to accomplish for the boy.

"Doug, this boy is very similar to what happened to Collin, although he knows his attackers. The thing is, it was his parents who sold him to some men for … well, you know," Mr. Ken tried to explain to Doctor Jennings.

"Did he come to you the same way Collin did?" teased Doug.

"No, no, nothing such as that. This time, Ms. Judy Turner, you know the Director of CPS, brought him to me, hoping above all else that I would be able to do for Robert like what I did for Collin. I know the two boys had similar things happen to them it's just … well, it really isn't. I hesitate here, Doug, since Robert hasn't told me too much about the whole situation. Also, in this case, I knew right off the bat to get the boy some help. Knowing how Collin fared under your steady influence, I feel that Robert might get the same sort of help after working with you," explained Mr. Ken.

"I see. Well, my schedule is pretty full right now, Mr. Ken," Doug Jennings hemmed and hawed. "The earliest I can fit the lad in would have to be late next week or the beginning of the following week. Unless, that is, you find it in your heart to invite a 'starving' bachelor over for one of Momma Maria's wonderful dinners. Then, he and I could use your study to talk some and get a feel for one other. What do you say, Mr. Ken? Do we have a deal?"

The two men had a good laugh at Doug's whining about him being a 'starving' bachelor and his unique way of getting himself invited to dinner. They did discuss which night would be the best and then decided that Tuesday night, would work.

Over at the middle school, Robert decided not to tell his classmates about him living at Three Finger Cove. He remembered what Mr. Ken told him about some of the kids would just want to be his friend only because of where he lived. His morning was similar to what he'd have done at his 'old' school except they did change rooms for their art class. He kind of liked that they did that, as it got him out of his seat and got the blood rushing through his body, but especially his brain. He felt much more awake after the walking.

During lunch, Robert sat down with his food tray at an empty table. He figured he'd wait and see who comes over to talk to him before trying to make any friends. He saw a few of the students from his home room pass by but none of them sat down. Then a boy came over, one he hadn't met yet, and asked if he could sit with him. Robert was happy to have someone sitting there with him, so now he didn't feel like a 'nobody'. But as quick as the boy sat down some friends of his called him over to sit with them and then Robert was all alone again.

"Hi, can I sit down and eat with you?" asked a blonde headed boy, who was about his age.

Here was another boy he hadn't personally met but he was again happy to have some company so he said, "Sure, have a seat."

"I see you're new here at school. Sitting alone seems to be what the kids here make the newbie's do for some reason. Oh, by-the-way my name is Eric, Eric Turner," said Ms. Judy's son. But on hearing the last name, Robert never put two and two together and never realized that Eric was the son of the lady who brought him to Three Finger Cove.

"Oh yea, hi; yea, I'm the newbie. I just started today. … Oh, and my name is Robert, Robert Harrison," the newbie finally got out.

"Glad to meet you, Bobby," said Eric.

"No, ahh … the name's Robert," corrected Robert.

"Oh, okay, I get ya. New school; new name?" laughed Eric.

"So, what is this school like," Robert asked Eric. And from then on, for the remainder of the lunch period, the two boys began to get to know one another.

Mildred had made herself scarce that morning. She didn't want a repeat of what happened last Friday and she also didn't want to have to deal with that 'stupid' owner, Ken Thomas.

She enjoyed her position at Three Finger Cove. It gave her 'status and distinction' within the groups she associated with. She also had free reign over a sizeable household account and up until now never had to give an accounting of what she spent the money on. Yes, Mildred Johnston loved her job and all the perks that came with it.

But, with the addition of that sniveling young boy she knew things were somehow going to change. She didn't know what changes would be made, but with what happened Friday she knew that change would happen. How it would affect her, she did not yet know.

Over in the Study, Mr. Ken was thinking about what transpired last week between Mildred and Robert. He'd never seen that side of Mildred Johnston before. He knew her credentials were impeccable and she came with glowing referrals from her previous employers. But the altercation between woman and boy caused the man to second think his decision to hire the older, spinster woman.

After reviewing in his mind the woman's credentials and how she responsibly ran Three Finger Cove, he couldn't fathom anything being amiss. But still, there was something nagging at him and the more he thought about it the more he needed to find out IF there was something there.

Mr. Ken knew just the right person he could call and trust to get all the information he could about his Household Manager, Mildred Johnston. That one person was Mr. Jules Diamond and his detective agency. Jules was the man who found V. Susannah "Grammy" Frankenberg Wilkinson; Collin's then missing grandmother.

Punching a few numbers on his office phone and then letting the phone at the other end ring, Mr. Ken Thomas said, "Hello, Jules?" when the phone was finally answered.

"Hi, there, Mr. Ken, to what do I owe the honor of this call?" replied Jules Diamond.

"I have a little job for you, if you're interested?" stated Ken Thomas.

"Do tell and don't leave out any of the details," answered Mr. Diamond.

Thirty minutes later, Jules accepted the contract to find out as much as possible of one Mildred Johnston. Mr. Ken told Jules to spare no expense and to find everything and anything and to talk to anyone who ever knew Mildred or was ever her employer. Then Ken Thomas had another thought and additionally told Jules to find as many of the kids he could that Mildred had ever been associated with or had them as her charge. He asked Jules to find them, where ever they were now, and talk to them about what kind of 'nanny' Mildred was to them during their growing up.

Over at the middle school, Robert was beginning to fit in. He found out, to his liking, that at his old school they had covered as much as they did there and maybe a bit more so that made it easy for him to answer questions and follow along with what was happening in the classroom. His teacher was also pleased that she wouldn't have to spend much time, if any, bringing Robert along and up to speed. Both student and teacher thanked their 'lucky stars' that it worked out so well; Robert, because he seamlessly integrated in with the rest of the class, and the teacher, because her new student was as knowledgeable as her best student. It was a Win-Win for them both.

Over at Three Finger Cove, as soon as he got off the phone with Jules Diamond, Mr. Ken got busy working on his latest project – a hotel and an office building along the banks of the lake. The thing about the office building and the hotel was that it they weren't going to be alongside the water as much as they would be 'overlooking' the lake, since it would be perched on the high ground that it seemed nobody wanted.

Ken Thomas could never figure out why no one wanted to bother with that parcel of land. It had terrific views of the lake but it was more like a large mountain of rock instead of the lush greenery and trees most developers wanted to build their high priced homes on.

The difficultly that now faced Mr. Ken was getting the land rezoned from its current Residential designation to a Light Industrial/Commercial property designation to include the hotel he wanted to build plus an office building, right next door, so he could move his entire small empire of builders and architects there and then rent out the rest.

Mildred was still seething over what transpired at the end of last week. She knew she had to reassert herself as the person who 'ran' Three Finger Cove and get Mr. Ken to give her Robert as her charge. The thing that Mildred thought she had going for her was all those glowing letters of recommendation from her previous employers.

Mildred figured she would remind Mr. Thomas that she helped raise most of the 'high rollers' children over the past thirty-five years and knew a lot more than he about dealing with kids. The more she thought about it, the more she convinced herself that she was the superior person in that home and deserved to be Robert's guardian and to be responsible for him.

When the final bell rang at the Middle School, Robert walked to where his bus was supposed to be waiting. When he got there he found Eric getting on the same bus.

"So, you're riding this bus, too?" asked Eric.

"Yea, I guess I am," replied Robert.

"I didn't see you on the bus this morning, so are you sure this is the bus you're supposed to take home?" queried Eric.

"Yes, I'm pretty sure. The schedule the lady gave me when Mr. Ken enrolled me…" and Robert stopped in mid-sentence with his heart racing that maybe he screwed up.

"Oh, yea … then this IS your bus. You'll get off at the top of the entrance to The Cove, about half a block away," reassured a smiling Eric. "Just go down the lane a bit and you'll see the guard entrance. You can't miss it!"

"Ah … ah thanks, Eric," was all Robert could get out.

It was a lonely ride back to Three Finger Cove for Robert, because all along the way he thought he had messed up and gave away where he was living. He just knew that, tomorrow, Eric would blab it all around the school where he was living and then the kids would all start 'wanting' to be his friend.

Robert didn't want people to be his friend because of where he lived … but because of who he was. He sat there sulking and not watching where he was on the bus route that if Eric hadn't yelled to him, "Hey, this is your stop, Robert," he would have continued on to who knows where.

"Thanks, Eric. I … I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"

As the preteen walked home from the Bus Stop, Robert dreaded what he was going to say to Mr. Ken about his verbal misstep on the bus. Even though he'd only been at Three Finger Cove four and a half days he felt 'good' about the place. But he still considered leaving in two weeks if the need arose.

The lad walked up the front steps of his new foster home and turned the door knob and nothing happened. The door was locked and he hadn't remembered to take his key.

"Now what am I going to do?" Robert thought to himself. "Press the doorbell, I guess." And he did.

He rang it three or four times, he didn't remember, but when the door opened it was Mildred Johnston who answered it.

"Oh … it's you! You don't use the front door, I told you. Or, can't you remember such a simple rule. You'll use the servant's entrance … through the garage … boy!" a sneering Ms. Johnston told the lad.

Just as she was closing the door, Mr. Ken and Chief came out of his study, due to the number of times the doorbell had rung. They came around the corner in time to see that it was Robert, at the front door, just as Mildred was closing the door on the child.

"Why didn't you let the boy in, Mildred?" asked Mr. Ken, as he continued to the front door and pulled the door wide open for the lad.

Mildred just stood there, with her hackles in an uproar over the appearance of that 'stupid' man, she thought, and didn't say a word.

"Come on in, Robert," a smiling and happy faced Ken Thomas said to his newest foster son. "I guess you forgot to take your key to the house. Oh, well, let's go into my Study and then you can tell me about your first day,"

Robert tentatively stepped through the doorway into the Entry Foyer, all the while keeping a watchful eye on Mildred Johnston. His timid entrance didn't go unnoticed by the owner of The Cove.

Trying to defuse what just happened at the front door; Mr. Ken said to the lad as the two entered the Study, "It's my fault I didn't remind you to take your key, Robert. I'm sorry for that. Mildred usually doesn't …"

"She wouldn't let me in," announced Robert, as Mr. Ken was speaking.

"…answer the door. … What did you say?" asked Mr. Ken.

"I said 'she wouldn't let me in,'" repeated Robert.

"No. … You mustn't have heard her right," hopefully asked Mr. Ken.

"Yes, that's what she said … and she also told me that I don't use the front door; that I am supposed to use the servant's entrance … through the garage. … and then she called me 'boy' in a mean way," answered Robert, as he looked up into his new foster dad's eyes to see what his response would be.

"Robert … I do not know what to say. Mildred Johnston has been a god-send to me here, taking care of the household, as I work on my projects. She also came highly recommended by the many people whom she worked for, over the years. I am having a hard time believing she acted in such a way," responded Mr. Ken.

"I know what I heard. She doesn't like me and she told me so that first night. You saw the way she acted Thursday morning in the kitchen, then up in my room, later that morning," responded Robert.

"Well, yes, she said she didn't want to interrupt you," Mr. Ken responded back.

"And you believe THAT?" angrily said Robert.

"I'm sorry, Robert, I told you that I'd talk to her about all of that but … well … I guess I got busy and forgot. But, what I wanted to ask you when you came home after school today was … well, to get your 'take' on the school," replied Mr. Ken.

Robert just stood there looking at the man and thinking too about what just transpired. He wasn't sure if Mr. Ken meant he would talk to the household manager, as he said he would, or was he just saying that so he could ignore what went on at the front door.

Mr. Ken saw, as the boy stood there, that the lad was trying to decide something, but what he wasn't sure; and recognizing that the two were still standing since they entered the Study the man said, "What do you say we sit down and talk, Robert. We'll both feel more relaxed and it will be more comfortable."

"Oh... yea, okay," said the lad, as he went to the chair he used the other day.

Mr. Ken also took the chair he used when the two had their little talk and that provided for them to look at one another.

"Okay, so, tell me about school today. How'd it go?"

Robert began telling about his day at this new school. He told the man about the kids he met and what happened at lunch and how he enjoyed moving to another room for Art because it made him wake up some.

"And how was the bus ride home?" innocently asked Mr. Ken.

Upon hearing the question, Robert just sat there 'like a deer' in the headlights. He didn't know what to say to the man or how to tell him that he messed up and told Eric where he was living.

Ken saw the stress on the boy's face and said, "So, did something happen on the bus that you don't want to tell me about?"

Robert looked up and into the man's eyes and said, "Well, nothing really happened … it's just that … well, I mentioned to Eric your name … and now I'm afraid he'll blab to all the kids at school that I live here. … I'm sorry, Mr. Ken."

Mr. Ken smiled at Robert and then asked, "Did this Eric lad tell you his last name, by chance?"

"Yea, he sat down with me at lunch and told me his name was Eric Turner, or something like that," answered Robert.

"Didn't that name mean anything to you … when he said that?" asked Mr. Ken.

"No, why should it?" wondered Robert.

"Was this a blonde headed boy about your height and age and have a really good smile?" laughed Mr. Ken.

"Yea, why; do you know who this boy is, too?" quizzed Robert.

"He said his name was Eric Turner … and that name 'Turner' doesn't ring a bell for you?" smiled Mr. Ken.

Robert sat there thinking and as he began recognizing the name he said, "You mean that … that was the lady who brought me here … her son?"

"Yes, that was Ms. Judy's son, Eric." Acknowledged Mr. Ken.

"Ahh dang, now I know he'll blab to all the kids where I live. I'm sorry Mr. Ken. I tried hard all day not to tell anyone where I lived but on the bus coming home … Eric said he didn't see me on the bus this morning and asked if I was sure that I was on the right bus. I told him I knew I was on the right bus because I got it when Mr. Ken brought me to the school to enroll me. It was then I knew I fuu err, screwed up."

With that said, the lad began to cry.

Ken went to the preteen and hugged him and told him it would be okay. He let the boy cry some and then he let go and went to his phone and made a call.

"Hello, Ms. Judy," replied Mr. Ken, when the phone was answered

"No, nothing that drastic, but is Eric there?" inquired the man.

"Can I speak to him, please?" inquired Mr. Ken.

Robert took notice when Mr. Ken released him and went over and made a phone call. Then as he listened to Mr. Ken, on the phone, he began thinking that the man was calling Ms. Judy to come and get him because he told where he now lived.

"Eric..." asked Mr. Ken.

"Yea, I heard you met my new 'son' today," continued the man.

Robert now heard him being called 'SON' and that got his attention even more, but he also became more confused about what was being said about him.

"So, your mom didn't tell you she talked me into taking in a foster boy, then?" asked the owner of the Cove.

"That's good. I didn't think she'd tell you and, of course, she didn't tell you anything about him, did she?" the man quizzed Eric.

"So, you tried tonight when you got home … but she told you to mind your own business did she?" laughed Mr. Ken, after he said that.

Robert was becoming more and more interested in what was being said on the phone. Of course, he could only hear one side of the conversation but it didn't sound anything like he was being sent away.

"Say, Eric, my 'little brother' I need to ask a big favor of you. Do you think you can handle it?" petitioned Mr. Ken.

"Okay, well, I'm asking you to please not tell the kids at school that you know where Robert is living" requested the man.

"Oh, so, some of the other kids may have heard him say my name? Do you think they'd be able to put two and two together, then?" inquired Mr. Ken.

"Great, yes, we both don't want Robert to have to fend off any wanna be 'friends' right now. We both would like him to get to know the kids, along the way, and decide who he likes as friends and then who he'd want as good friends. I think you know what I'm saying here, Eric," revealed Mr. Ken.

"Thanks, I knew I could count on you!" smiled Mr. Ken.

"Oh, yes, he should be on the bus tomorrow morning. That is IF he remembers to set his ALARM CLOCK correctly so he can get himself up," laughed Mr. Ken, as he looked over at his new charge. "Chief did the honors this morning," finished the Cove's owner, as he winked at Robert to let him know he was teasing.

Robert heard his foster dad laugh after what he just said.

"Thanks, again Eric. No, I don't need to talk to your mom. Bye!" and Mr. Ken finished his call to Eric Turner.

"There … ALL fixed! Eric won't mention anything to the kids at school, but he's not sure if any of the other kids on the bus heard you mention my name. Also, keep in mind, that other kids from around here ride that same bus and it won't be too long that they will know you're living here, so, at least be prepared for that," explained Mr. Ken.

"So, what do I tell them if they ask me if I am living here at Three Finger Cove?" asked a now perplexed Robert.

"You tell them the truth. But don't offer anything else. I'm sure Eric will help you out when he can. He saw how it affected Collin, so he knows what to do," offered the new foster dad.

"Thanks. … Thank you for doing all that for me, the phone call and all. I thought I would be in trouble when you found out that I let slip that I lived with you and … and I thought the phone call you were making was to have Ms. Turner come and get me," said the teary eyed Robert.

"Oh, Robert, things have gone on real fast for you and you haven't had the chance to get settled in, yet. I can understand the position you feel you are in. On top of everything, you have no idea of how I will act or even react when it comes to you.

"Robert … please try and believe me when I say that I am going to do my BEST for you … always. Ms. Judy gave me this great responsibility and I will do my damndest to do right by you … all the time. I know this has been a rocky start, well, with Mildred and all, but I hope you'll still give me those two weeks I asked for in the beginning."

Robert smiled at what the man said. He could tell by the nature of the man's voice that he meant every word he said. And with that the lad went over to the man and hugged him and thanked him again for everything he'd done for him.

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