Castle Roland

Three Finger Cove - Robert
Book II

by Chowhound


Chapter 11

Published: 16 Jul 15

Three Finger Cove – Robert

Copyright © 2012 - 2015
by Chowhound
All rights reserved

The next day, Eric and Robert sat together, in the back of the bus, talking about the previous day's revelation. Eric assured the newbie that he would run interference for him as much as he could around the other classmates.

Back at Three Finger Cove, Mr. Ken called Mildred Johnston into his office to have that chat with the woman he had promised his new foster son he'd have.

"What can I do for you Mr. Thomas?" asked Mildred, as she walked into the Study.

"Mildred, I need to have that talk with you about Robert," calmly replied the owner of Three Finger Cove.

"Oh, that … that boy. What did he do now?" snickered the older lady.

"Mildred, it isn't what he's done … it's how you've treated him and acted towards him that I want to talk to you about," explained the owner of The Cove.

"Mr. Thomas," began Mildred in a patronizing voice, "I could see right from the start that there was going to be trouble with that 'boy'. I've helped raise a large number of children, over my many years, and I can tell … right away … when a child … will be trouble.

"I believe that with my extensive experience, and your limited experience with but only one much older teen, that it is I who should be placed in charge of the boy. It would be no bother … no bother at all … to add just one small 'boy' to my many responsibilities here at Three Finger Cove."

Ken Thomas sat there aghast as he listened to Mildred go on and on about her abilities and offering to take on the 'boy' as she called him. Even when he tried to interrupt her, she never broke stride and never once ever allowed him to explain why he wanted to talk to her and about what.

"I'm sure you will agree with me, Mr. Thomas, that the best thing for Three Finger Cove and the 'boy' would be for me to take over immediate responsibility for the care and discipline of the 'boy'. Wouldn't you agree with me, Mr. Thomas, that I am the most well qualified to take over the 'boy's' handling and learning about what living in this grand place means?" finally finished Mildred Johnston.

"Wow … you really have thought this thoroughly through, haven't you, Ms. Johnston?" began Ken Thomas. "I see you took the 'high' ground right from the start so I couldn't get a word in edgewise. Well, I am sorry that you just … wasted … your … breath!" finished the man in a whirl.

"What I brought you in for, Ms. Johnston, was to discuss with you your deliberate mistreatment of Robert, YES, the 'boy' as you are so fond of calling him DOES have a name. It is, Robert!

"I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why you have this hatred for … for Robert. He hasn't done anything to you, which I am aware of anyway, since he arrived here at The Cove but yet … you've treated him as if he was a nonentity, or worse. I told you to treat him as a MEMBER of Three Finger Cove, yet you've done nothing more than ignore my directive.

"And, to respond to your assertion that you have superior training when it comes to children, I agree, that yes, you may have many more years, than I, of taking care of scores of children. But what you don't know is that I not only have I had to deal with a severely abused teen but I had to nurse him to good physical and mental health over the many months he lived here at The Cove.

"And something else you may not know is that I have attended the required courses and training and I now have a Degree in Early Childhood Development. I found through my studies that I didn't do too bad a job of taking care of Collin, and I think I can do the same for Robert, as well.

"But, I didn't call you into my Study to discuss which one of us is the better person who is capable of taking care for Robert. What I want is to ask you why … why you treated Robert the way you have those days you both were here? And to get to that point, my question to you right now deals with why was it that you wouldn't allow Robert in through the front door, yesterday?" demanded Mr. Ken.

Mildred Johnston just sat there not uttering a word.

After about a minute of silence, Mr. Thomas said, "I am waiting, Mildred! What do you have to say for yourself?"

Mildred had played her 'upper' hand as she planned, but had no idea that this, this 'stupid man' would not acquiesce to her 'superior training and ways and methods'. And now, now she had to give an answer to save face or possibly lose her job.

"Well, if you MUST know, I thought it was best that the boy, I mean, that Robert should come through the kitchen as he looked a might dirty from out playing and this way he wouldn't get the main portion of the house dirty. I was only thinking of maintaining the 'presence' of the house," Mildred Johnston lied through her teeth.

"You know, Millie … you always seem to have the 'right' answer for me when I ask you a question, but now I am seeing a different Mildred Johnston. I am seeing a woman who doesn't like 'change' to her routine …"

"Yes, yes, that's it … I wasn't aware that the 'boy', I mean Robert, was going to become a permanent member of this household and … and I hadn't been able to make plans for his arrival. As it was, he was introduced to me just as I was leaving for the night and that took me off guard," recovered Millie, pretty quickly.

"Mildred … you've had it quite easy here these last sixteen or so months, taking care of the house and the things associated with it. But, I do remember when you first came to work here, you and Ryan had some difficulty getting along with one another, as well. Am I correct in that, Mildred?" asked Mr. Ken

"Why, nooo, Mr. Ken … Ryan had his responsibilities and I had mine. There was little to no overlapping of duties and we worked them out pretty quickly, if I remember correctly," again Mildred Johnston lied, knowing she wanted Ryan to work for her so she could control his pay and thus control him.

"Again, Mildred that is what you believed occurred during that time. But, that was not how Ryan … and especially his mother … explained how you overreached your duties and demanded that Ryan do what you wanted done not what he'd been doing for me these last four years. I also believe there was a disagreement over who actually controlled his pay and thus who he worked for?

"Mildred, you have been a very good Household Manager for me and I do really appreciate how you've managed The Cove. These 'controlling' type experiences I've seen you've had recently with children, or possibly teenagers, may perhaps mean you've lost your 'edge', so-to-speak, over time, since the kids of today are nothing like what the kids of your time were. With both Ryan and now Robert …" said Mr. Ken and letting the last part just hang there for Mildred to ponder over.

Mildred sat there, not saying a word, as her boss continued to talk. But internally, she was seething with discontent, throughout her entire body, over what the man was saying to her just then. She knew better and knew more than 'stupid man' will ever know and here he was telling her how to act with this, this 'boy'.

"I don't like what I'm seeing. So, I WILL still maintain the parent role when it comes to Robert. If I am not here, and something pertaining to Robert needs to be handled then I expect you to do so, BUT only in a way that mimics how I'd handle it. If you can't do it that way then leave it to me for when I return. Will that work for you, Mildred?"

Mildred was still in her own 'dream world' and didn't notice Mr. Thomas had finished speaking.

"Mildred?" said Mr. Ken, a little louder to get the woman's attention.

"Oh, sorry… yes, I understand Mr. Thomas. I will do exactly as you say!" said Mildred, but not knowing to what she was answering agreeing to.

"Robert now has a key to the house and he'll use whichever door he chooses. He also knows the alarm code and I've shown him how it works and how to arm and disarm the system. Do you have any questions for me?" asked the owner of The Cove.

"No … I think I understand what you expect of me," replied Mildred Johnston.

Over at the school, Robert was fitting in smoothly with his classmates. He actively took part in classroom activities and even answered questions when they were asked of him. During lunch, he even sat with and got to know a few more of the kids in his class. By the end of the day, Robert had been so busy with the school work and things that he realized that no one had actually asked him where he lived and for that he was thankful.

On the bus ride home, both Robert and Eric again sat in the back of the bus and quietly talked about their day not wanting the others to know what they were saying.

"Eric, you've been over to where I live, haven't ya?" asked Robert.

"Sure … but I don't go over there as much as I used to when Collin still lived there. Why … why do you want to know that?" replied Eric.

"Well … you know Mildred Johnston don't you?" further asked Robert.

"Yea, I know her, but I don't know her all that well," answered Eric. "What do you want to know?"

"Well, do you get along with you know, Mildred, I mean Ms. Johnston? Or, does she treat you like you were a nothing?" strangely asked Robert.

"As I said, I don't know her all that good, but yea, she doesn't seem to like me all that much. Why are you asking me about her?" inquired Eric.

"Oh, no real reason. It's just that since I am living there now, I have to figure out how to get her to like me," replied Robert.

"GOOD LUCK!" quickly stated Eric. And without any prompting he added, "Ryan had a hard time with her when she first came to work there. Those two were always arguing with each other."

"Why? What did Ryan do and what happened when he argued with her? She seems to be a mean lady," said Robert.

"I don't know the whole story, but, Robert, you need to stay away from her as much as you can. Ryan told me that one time she had slapped him and then denied she had ever did it when Mr. Ken confronted her about it," explained Eric.

"Well, what I heard was that, now don't you tell anyone I told you this, but what I heard was that Mr. Ken got in her face and told her that Ryan worked for him, NOT her, and that she was to stay away from Ryan and what he did at the Cove," answered Eric.

"Wow … Mr. Ken did that?" said a surprised Robert.

"Yep, Ryan told me. He said that after that she stays away from him and doesn't ever bother him when he is doing his job there," explained Eric.

"Look … ever since Collin went to live with his grandmother, I don't have many reasons to go to Three Finger Cove. Yea, my mom and I go to the parties and all, but unless Ryan asks me over to swim, sometimes, I don't ever go there, you know, to just visit. I did spend a lot of time there over the Holidays but that's a different story. But why … why are you so interested in Ms. Johnston?" asked Eric. "What she do to you?"

"Eric, I've only been there since last Wednesday night and … well, she looks mean, to me, and … and I thought, well that I'd ask you, you know, how I can handle her, in case she gets mean to me or worse," replied Robert. "I had hoped you could tell me something that I could use so I can stay there."

"You already like it there" asked a surprised Eric, "and you've only been there 5 and a half days?" laughed Eric as he said that. "I don't blame you though, it is an awesome place to live and Mr. Ken is the greatest."

"Why do you say that?" asked Robert.

"What … about Three Finger Cove or Mr. Ken?" Eric wanted to know.

"Well, Mr. Ken, first; he is my new foster dad and all. Tell me what you like about him, Eric," said Robert.

"There's so much to tell that, well, it could take me a long time. Do you think I could come over tomorrow?" then asked Eric.

Robert had to think there for a minute, trying to remember what Mr. Ken said about his friends and them coming over to The Cove. Then he said, "I'm not sure if I can. Mr. Ken told me that he has to get to know my friends before I can let them come over."

"I'll bet Mr. Ken will allow me to come over. I've been there a lot over the past 2 ½ years, ever since Collin was allowed to live there, and he did call me 'little brother' last night, when we talked, so I bet Mr. Ken will let me," remarked Eric.

"Okay, then, I'll ask Mr. Ken tonight and he can call you if you can."

"Why can't you call me?" asked a serious Eric

"I don't know your number, silly," now laughed Robert.

As the boys were now laughing at their last few comments to each other, Eric looked out and saw the bus was near Robert's stop.

"Hey, here comes your stop. Ask Mr. Ken and I bet he'll tell you its okay. Then, when I come over, I can tell you why I think Mr. Ken is the greatest."

The bus came to a stop and Robert made his way to the front and got off the school bus along with a few other kids. As the bus pulled away, the two new friends waved at one another and then Robert turned to walk, with a smile on his face, to his new home.

At dinner, that night, Mr. Ken introduced Doctor Doug to Robert and explained the man had some open time that night and he wanted to come over and meet him and break the ice, so-to-speak. Mr. Thomas also mentioned to Robert he had talked to Ms. Johnston, again, and said that he hoped he had settled things down between them. When dinner was over, Doctor Doug and Robert went in to Mr. Ken's Study and thirty minutes later, when they came out, they were laughing like they were old friends.

"Robert, I want to thank you for being so open and trusting of me. I'll have to get with Mr. Ken and set up regular time for us to meet. Let him know if you'd rather meet during the afternoon away from school or the early evening after school. Once we set up the time, we'll try to keep to it on a reoccurring schedule. I'll call you tomorrow Mr. Ken," said Doug Jennings, as he opened the front door to leave the Cove.

After Doctor Doug left, Mr. Ken and Robert went back into the Study to talk. Since the lad didn't get a chance to tell about his day earlier the lad mentioned he and Eric were becoming friends. He then asked if it was okay if the lad could come over the next day. Then, before he got an answer, the lad told his new foster dad that he'd have to call and ask the lad over.

Laughing that he had to make the phone call, Mr. Ken asked, "If he's you friend, why is it that I have to call him?"

"Well, I don't have a phone and I don't know his phone number and since you talked to him the other night," replied Robert with a smile on his face, "I figured you could ask his mom for me."

Laughing hard at the boy's explanation, Mr. Ken said, "Well, did you ever think to ask me for Eric's phone number and then YOU can ask his mom if he could come over? I think I'm a bit too old to be asking a 12 year old to come over and play. Don't you?"

Smiling a bit more now, at the teasing antics of his foster dad, Robert replied, "No, I don't think you're too old to be asking a 12 year old over to play" said Robert as he began to laugh more now, too, "because you'd be asking his mom for me, not for you."

The two were having a nice laugh and during it Mr. Ken was commenting to himself that it was nice seeing the lad was trying to fit into The Cove. Even Chief got into the act with her light barks at the commotion the two were making.

"Okay, you win, Robert, I'll call Eric after we finish here but it will be Y-O-U who talks to Ms. Judy and ask if Eric can come over but ... well, tomorrow is Wednesday so what say we make it for Saturday that he comes over. That way you will have more time to talk. You okay with that, young man?"

"Yes, I guess I can deal with that," answered the still smiling pre-teen.

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