Everyone got settled on the motor coach as it worked its way past Four Corners. Mr. Ken had a few announcements he wanted to make before everyone got into a conversation with their seatmate, so he stood up and tried to get everyone's attention. But only the people in the front of the bus could hear him.
It was Ryan who spoke up and said, "Mr. Ken ... there is a microphone to your right. That might work better."
Mr. Ken looked to his right, and he saw the microphone in its cradle over the driver's head. He took it and pressed the button intending to use it to get everyone's attention, but instead got a tremendous feedback squelch. That definitely got everyone's attention, for sure. The driver turned the volume down some and said over his shoulder, "It should work fine now."
"Hello, can everyone hear me?" Mr. Ken said into the mike.
Robert from the back yelled, "We can hear you 'dad'! Turn it down some," now laughed the teen, along with the rest of the boys back there.
The driver turned the volume down a bit more and Mr. Ken put the mike to his mouth.
"I want to make a few announcements before we all get too settled in our surroundings. I'm going to ask Ryan and Brant to pass out some SeaWorld schedules Mr. Chris downloaded and miniaturized for us. We should get to SeaWorld around twelve, noon."
The owner of The Cove waited to see that everyone had a schedule before he began to speak again.
"Good, it looks like everyone has a schedule. If you will look at it you'll see that right after we get there the Shamu Show will start at 12:30 PM. If you take in that show you won't have to continue to check the schedules for when it goes on next. There is also the Clyde and Seamore's Halloween Bash show going on at about the same time. Dan Fischer says if it is anything like what they saw back in August, it is a wild one. He reminds you, lads, not to sit on the left because that's where the water will splash the spectators. The other shows are also listed.
"And speaking of water ... I want to remind you boys, that none of you brought a change of clothing, so ... I am politely asking you NOT to get WET! (Some laughs were heard from the back of the bus.) A splash of water here and there won't hurt you, but if you get yourself really wet the weather is not warm enough that you will completely dry off before we head home at 10 PM. That means you WILL be cold even with your jacket on.
"As I see it, there are three distinct groups here on board. I expect you'll all want to head out as separate groups, but please remember there are chaperones on the bus who are supposed to be with you. We haven't decided which adults will be with which group yet, but I ask you not to leave them too far behind. (More laughs could be heard coming from the lads and this time the adults.)
"You are also on your own for lunch. I told your parents to give you lads some money, so you can get something to eat, if you get hungry. I want us all to meet at 5 PM for dinner at Shamu's Smokehouse, which I will pay for. If you want to stay out riding the rides and watching the shows that is all well and good, but then you are your own for dinner. I would ask you all to meet us at 6:30 by Shamu Stadium, which by the way is located across from the Shamu's Smokehouse, where we'll head out from there to the different haunted areas.
"I want to warn you that some of these haunted areas ARE GOING TO BE INTENSE! If you scare easily then you may want to forgo some of them, or go through in a group and stick close to your buddy.
"We are staying until 10 PM. What I mean there is ... the motor coach leaves at 10 PM. That means you will need to watch the time and head out to the main gate by 9:45. That way I can do a head count and we can begin our return trip and be back to The Cove by midnight. Your parents know we'll be back about that time, so they should be there waiting for you.
"To recap, stay dry, keep within a reasonable distance of your chaperone, you're on your own for lunch, but we'll meet at 5 for dinner at Shamu's Smokehouse, and we'll cross from there and meet at Shamu Stadium, at 6:30, to go to the haunted areas. And lastly, we leave at 10, so be at the main gate by 9:45. Are there any questions? ... OK, since there are no questions right now I'll shut up. Thank you for listening," finished Mr. Ken. The Lads clapped.
Mr. Ken sat down next to Judy. The two talked about the man's foster boys so she could get some feedback as to how they were all adapting to living together and, of course, living with him. Judy also wanted to how they were all handling what was happening with the twins.
Mr. Ken told the Director of CPS that he felt the boys have come together as 'brothers' and even called each other that. Ken also told the woman the boys were involved in many of the discussions of what was going on with the twins, since both Robert and Charles told Kevin and Kyle their stories.
Judy Turner was surprised the older boys told the twins why they were in the system, but Mr. Ken said they wanted them to know, so that there would be no wondering and asking of embarrassing questions at the wrong time. He told her the twins are now in much the same situation as Robert and Charles are, and that they all have something they don't want their friends to know about. Judy said she totally understood.
Mr. Ken also briefed Judy about what Detective Carrier had to say about his investigation. He told her they hadn't arrested Parker Parchsons yet, but were hoping to, after they found and talked to the other boys involved. The owner of The Cove told Judy the detective hoped after they had more statements, the District Attorney would have enough evidence to use to get the arrest and search warrants.
Dan Fischer and Wayne Mitchell sat together on the motor coach. Wayne wanted to learn more about The Cove and what he might be getting himself into. Dan kept telling him about the things he and the lads did together, like the water rafts, the barbeques and the use of PWCs and the Commander, but also all about the trips to Fiesta Texas and SeaWorld.
Dan then tried to calm Wayne down by telling him that he already had the hardest part licked. Dan explained the boys already liked him, and he felt they would listen to him as their stand-in authority figure. Wayne took it all in and was quiet most of the rest of the ride.
The two single parents sat together. Frank Longger asked Emma Foster to sit with him as they rode to SeaWorld. He told her he wanted to pick her brain about the problems she had in raising Todd all by herself. Emma asked Frank why he wanted to know how she did what she did with Todd. It was then Frank told her about what his wife did to the boys, while he was away, and that he was now a single parent trying to raise a twelve and ten-year-old. Emma told Frank she was a bit embarrassed to talk about it, but she did give the man some helpful hints. The two talked almost the entire ride to their destination.
John and Barbara Sullivan sat together, of course. They talked about how this trip was going to let them decide if they wanted to buy the SeaWorld Season Passes for the entire family. They had talked about it before and now that their boys were old enough to really enjoy what SeaWorld had to offer, they figured now might be the right time to buy them as a Christmas present.
Dan Chassen was the odd man out. With Joyce canceling her volunteering, Dan was left without a partner. Not that he was looking forward to being around Joyce Cambelle, but he thought to himself that having someone to talk with would have been nice. He had just thought that to himself when Mr. Ken sat down with the man.
"Dan, I'm sorry Joyce begged out. I would have bet she would have been the only one NOT to miss this trip. But, as we all know, things happen. So ... have you any preference for which group you would like to shadow?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Shadow? I thought we were going to chaperone them?" asked Dan Chassen.
"Well, I think they need to show us they can be trusted, but at a distance. You heard me earlier tell them not to lose sight of their chaperone, but I don't think us chaperones should be herding them in one direction or another, or even monitoring what they say and maybe do. They're mostly 12 and 13-year-olds, and they need to sow those wild oats that lay inside of them," chuckled Mr. Ken.
"Yes, they have the ramps and water rafts and the indoor pool at The Cove to use their stored up energy with, but this is a totally different ballgame for many of them. These are all good boys, Dan. They don't get to go out to a place like this with their friends, often, if at all. I feel they need the chance to learn the way they should act when they are not around their parents, or responsible adults, us chaperones.
"I hope this trip will give them the freedom to let their hair down a little and have some real fun, but within societal norms. This is their chance to prove to their parents, and me, that they are what they appear to be not only on the surface, but inside, too," finished Ken Thomas.
Dan Chassen had sat and listened to what Mr. Ken had to say. At first, he didn't want to hear it, but as the owner of The Cove explained what he had in mind he began to see the wisdom in it. He knew many kids are let off at amusement parks by their parents, without any supervision at all, with the hope they'll be OK. Here, Mr. Ken is giving the boys that freedom, as well as adult supervision, but at a distance. Dan thought about it some more, and told Ken he thought it was workable, but added 'the proof would be in the pudding'.
The teen lads seated all the way in the back were having a great time. None of them had ever ridden on a motor coach before, and this was a brand new experience. They loved the comfortable seats, and the fact they rode so high up they got to see more than they would have if they were all in cars.
The pre-teens were mostly located somewhere in the middle of the bus. They too were all enjoying this brand new experience that none of them could ever remember having. They were all talking at once and none of them could understand what the other one was saying. They were having a blast.
The laughter coming from the back of the bus caught Dan and Wayne's attention. Dan suggested they head back there to talk to the lads and get their take on the trip. Wayne was a bit nervous about going back there, but Dan said 'nothing ventured, nothing gained'. Wayne followed his seatmate to the rear of the motor coach.
"Hey, Robert ... how are you and your friends enjoying the bus ride?" asked a smiling Dan Fischer. Wayne just stood back and watched and learned.
"Mr. Dan, this is awesome. It isn't as good at flying in 'dad's' plane, but this ... this is so comfortable and the ride is so smooth and we can see forever from up here," was how Robert described his experience.
The two adults talked with the other boys for a few minutes and then stopped by Charles' large group. Dan told Wayne to start the conversation.
"Hi, guys," said Wayne.
"Hi, Mr. Wayne," a few of them shot back.
"How are you enjoying the trip so far?" asked Wayne.
"Mr. Wayne," spoke up Camm, "this is awesome. I'm also glad my mom decided not to come along. I know she would have hung all over Mr. Ken, and I didn't want to have to deal with seeing that and my friends seeing it, too. It would have been embarrassing for me, if you know what I mean."
"Camm, I sort of understand what you are saying. Parents can embarrass their kids and not understand they are making your life a living hell," smiled Wayne Mitchell.
The boys who heard the short but directed conversation all said they agreed with what Mr. Wayne just said. They then started telling how their parents had done this or that around their friends and how they were about ready to die right there. That brought many more of the lads into the conversation and all Mr. Wayne did was ask how they were enjoying the trip. Dan and Wayne talked with many of the lads before heading back to their own seats.
Todd and Conner had taken seats just behind the adults. Conner was surprised when Todd called him and asked him if he wanted to go to SeaWorld with him and Mr. Ken. Conner thought it would be just him, Todd, Mr. Ken and his boys. He didn't realize, at first, he was going on a motor coach with 40 some other people. It wasn't until his little brother, Cooper, told him what the trip to SeaWorld was all about. Conner then told Todd how he's had some of the best experiences since the Labor Day Picnic that he can ever remember.
Todd had to ask his friend what he meant and all Conner could say was it started with the picnic itself and then the water rafts and swimming and then later the ride on the Commander and stopping at the yacht club, and now this awesome trip without his parents. It was then Todd told Conner that he hadn't done much of anything since he started working for Mr. Ken.
Conner laughed at what Todd just said. "Todd, you captain the Commander, you ride the PWCs, you helped save a teen's life, and you are the go-to man for Mr. Dan when it comes to the driving the Commander. Plus, you get to take care of the best place on the lake, and I bet you'll have this job until you graduate from high school. I can't imagine what he pays you, but I bet you won't have much trouble affording a car and paying for college," laughed Conner.
Todd laughed right along with his friend, then he said, "Conner ... please don't say that to anyone else at school. Many of our classmates know I work here and ... well, after I got that plaque and scholarship now more know, too. I just don't want anyone to think I have an in at The Cove and can get them something. I am just an employee ... who has access and have been in the right place at the right time. I rarely interact with Mr. Ken. I have my job and I do it and love it and he pays me good. That's all it is. Please ... please don't make my job at The Cove out to be any more than that."
Conner said he understood. From then on the two teenagers talked about what they were going to do when they got to SeaWorld. Conner wanted them to just go and do and meet back as Mr. Ken asked. Todd said he thought watching the younger kids ride the rides and watching them in the haunted areas would be fun in itself.
Todd explained he'd been to Six Flags with Mr. Dan, Charles and Camm and to SeaWorld with Mr. Dan and Charles, Robert and David and that was the most fun he ever had. Conner said it sounded like it could be fun, but asked if it didn't pan out could they take off by themselves. Todd agreed. They bumped fists and then went back to just talking.
Ryan and Brant had gotten to know one another better ever since the Labor Day Picnic. They hung around at school and they talk on the phone many nights. There on the bus, they were talking about Mr. Ken and how they got to be on the trip. Ryan told his friend that he was totally surprised that he was asked to go, even though his brother was friends with Charles. Brant said almost the same thing, but that his brother was friends with Robert. The two then smiled and talked about what they wanted to do when they got to SeaWorld.
Mr. Ken walked the bus aisle to check on the boys and to see how they were enjoying the ride. Robert told his 'dad' what he told Mr. Dan and the other teens mirrored that. Mr. Ken stopped to talk to Charles and his friends and they were ecstatic they were not only riding in the motor coach, but they also going to SeaWorld where many of them had never been before.
'Dad Ken' then stopped to talk to the twins and their friends. Kyle was the most animated over the fact they were going to SeaWorld and riding a huge bus, as he called it. Kevin was also talkative as he couldn't ever remember his parents taking them on such a 'wonderful adventure', was how the older twin put it. The rest of the lads also chimed in with their thanks for inviting them and also paying for them to go to one of the best amusement parks around. That last comment elicited a few laughs from the boys who heard it.
The motor coach made quick time to their destination, but two hours is two hours no matter who is driving. The lads were happy they had a restroom onboard in order to relieve any anxious excess fluids they produced along the way.
The bus had an almost party atmosphere inside. Everyone was talking to their seatmates and in many cases they exchanged seats, so they could talk to other travelers. The adults changed seats almost as much as the lads did. The only one who hadn't changed seats was the driver.
While everyone was getting ready to board the motorcoach to travel to SeaWorld, over at BAMC, Parker Parchsons had a couple of visitors. These men came specifically to talk to Parker to try to help devise a solution to Parker's situation. Parker had called the men and told them of his visit from Bandera County Detective Joel Carrier and that they needed to 'fix' things before the detective gets enough evidence to arrest him and possibly many more.
"Parker, what do you think needs to be done to make this go away?" asked Julian Hankers.
"Yes, tell us what you have in mind, Parker, before we have to figure this out for you," sarcastically said Jerome Bredshaws, who worked with Parker in obtaining clients for their Sunday meetings.
"Well, the first thing is to get my boys away from that man they call Mr. Ken. He is a big influence on them and I believe with him out of the picture the boys can be persuaded to say what needs to be said. Then, there is another lad who lives with the man and my boys. His name is Robert, but I knew him as Bobby.
"It was Bobby's dad who got me into this racket. I was one of his first customers and his son was as good as Kevin is. That lad is another problem we need to 'fix'. I think he recognized me when he came with my boys to visit me that first time," explained Parker Parchsons.
Julian spoke up and said, "Parker the man that Kevin and Kyle live with has a friend who is a Sheriff's Lieutenant, and I'd say is one of his best buddies. He was there the night we tried to gain custody of the twins. We have to avoid getting him involved at all costs. He was a pain in my ass when I was arrested and he raked Vince over the coals, and he was just an innocent bystander who rode with me to give me some company.
"Vince hasn't returned any of my phone calls ever since he was released from custody, and I don't blame him. I thought those papers you gave me would do the trick, but that lawyer you talked to didn't know I needed to get the local juvenile judge, or the CPS Director, to sign off on my taking custody. That's what got the law involved. I just hope they don't backtrack me and start looking into who I hang with and where I go. That would NOT be good at all!"
"OK, that's the chance we all have to take," started Jerome. "But the bottom line is ... we have to get these three lads in our custody, so they can't cause us any more trouble for any of us. Having the local detective involved isn't good either. It's too bad they didn't keep this investigation up there where it would have been much harder for them to interview people and backtrack any information they get.
"Be that as it may, I suggest we snatch these kids ... and I think the best time to do that will be during Halloween. My bet is the twins ... they will want to go out Trick-Or-Treating to get candy from the local houses. All we need to do then is watch and wait for them to go out and find a good place to snatch them. What do you guys think?"
Parker and Julian mulled over what Jerome had to say before Julian offered, "What if we can't snatch them?" Then what? Do we have to go to the extreme to shut them up?"
Parker immediately spoke out and said, "NO! I do NOT want my kids taken out like they were a snitch, or something."
"But that is what they will be if we can't get them under our control," argued back Jerome.
"Yeah, yeah, I hear you ... but I can't stomach thinking that ... that the blood of my loins would no longer be around. That HAS to be the LAST OPTION! You HEAR me?" loudly expressed Parker Parchsons.
"We hear you, Parker, but we're in this endeavor up to our eyeballs with you, and we have to think of what we can do to protect ourselves, as well as you. We'll try to snatch the boys and barring that, well ... ahh ... we may have to go to plan 'B', Parker. We, and I mean WE, can't let these three boys tell their story and be around to tell it to a jury," reasoned Julian.
"OK, I hear you too, but you also know my druthers," said Parker. "So, how do you plan to snatch them? You two can't do it on your own, you'll need help, since there are three of them. Who can you trust? Some of those other men who are in this as much as we are?"
"YES!" quickly answered Jerome. "These men have enjoyed the sweet fruit of all those lads, including Kevin. By the way, why was it Kyle was never brought into this enterprise? Having both lads at the Sunday get-togethers could have added a few more dollars per person, especially if the guys knew they'd get the chance to taste the sweet nectar of twins."
"A few more dollars, huh, there would have been a bunch more of dollars I'd say," spoke up Julian. "Some of those men were always asking when Kevin's twin brother was going to join us. Now, as to how we're going to 'fix' this problem, I agree that Halloween is our best time to do this, and it is only three weeks away. The question is ... which guys do we ask to help us with this? Keep in mind, if we mess this up... the Fed's could get involved and, if caught, we'll all go away for a VERY, VERY long time!"
The three men talked at length on how they would go about grabbing the lads and which men they'd ask to help with this endeavor, and the equipment, like cars and blackout hoods, they'd need. They then discussed where they would take the boys. They decided they'd get their real estate friend to find them a house that the people are away for an extended time, or a house that was vacant and had no chance of selling any time soon. They discussed both scenarios at length and added things as they thought about them if they thought it made their success more certain.
While all this was going on, Vivian had no idea what was happening in her husband's hospital room. It was a Saturday and a long weekend, no less, and she hoped her sons were going to visit her this weekend. She hadn't seen them last weekend, so she figured they'd come to visit during this one. She didn't have their phone number to call them to talk to them, and she was disappointed they hadn't called her at all even during the week.
She knew their Mr. Ken got her room phone number to give to her boys so they could call her, but she just couldn't figure out why they hadn't. She was getting a bit dispirited over not seeing or even hearing from her boys. And, when added to all the pain of the skin grafts and the long waiting for her bones to heal she was feeling not only stir crazy, but she was getting a little depressed from being there all by herself.
When the motorcoach was close to their destination, Mr. Ken picked up the mike and got everyone's attention. "OK, my guests, the driver says we are about fifteen minutes out. I tell you that so you can get ready to have some FUN! When we arrive, either I, or Mr. Chris, who is meeting us there with his family, will get the tickets and pass them out to you as you depart the coach.
"Now for the assignment of the chaperone's. John and Barbara Sullivan have decided to take the two ten-year-olds, Ryan and Brant, and Kyle and his friends. Dan Fischer and Judy Turner, are taking Robert's group of thirteen-year-olds. Frank Longer and Wayne Mitchell are going to watch over Charles' group, and Emma Foster and Dan Chassen are going to look after Kevin and his friends. As for me, I'm going to keep track of Todd and Conner," laughed Mr. Ken.
"Ok, I know the numbers aren't equal. If you want to join another group just make sure you aren't overloading the chaperones. Robert already has 9 in his group. Charles has 12 and Kyle has 9 while Kevin has 7. I only have 2," chuckled Mr. Ken.
"You shouldn't need your jackets until after dinner, but, then again, if the weather stays nice you might not need to come out to the bus to get them. Remember, we meet at Shamu's Smokehouse at 5 and Shamu's Stadium at 6:30, and when we finally get there I recommend you head to Shamu's Stadium to watch that show, but then again the only thing you need to do, and I stress NEED to do, is meet us at 6:30. Do I have any questions?" finished up Mr. Ken.
"Yes, sir, I do," spoke up Dylan. "With two Mr. Dan's ... would it be okay to call, ahh, Mr. Chassen, ahh, Mr. C? That way it won't be so confusing for us whom we are talking to, or about."
"Hmm, that sounds like a good question to tackle. How about that Mr. Dan?" called out Mr. Ken.
"Which Dan are you talking to," called back Dan Fischer, getting a lot of laughs from just about everyone.
"Point taken, Dylan. So Mr. Chassen, the lads want to know if they can call you Mr. C?" asked Mr. Ken
"Sure, I have no problem with that, Ken. It would definitely simplify it for the lads. So, okay, boys, you can call me Mr. C," said Dan Chassen, as he stood up so everyone knew who he was. The lads all clapped as the man, Mr. C, sat down.
When the motorcoach approached the stop light located just outside the entrance drive to their destination, SeaWorld, the boys began to cheer when they saw the huge blue and white sign. Their wait was just about over. The boys all rushed to look out the windows trying to see as much as they could see, but the only thing they saw was some sort of wood looking tower high up on a hill.
The bus climbed the winding, twisting hill that ended at the tollbooth kiosks where it was waved through. The driver had been to SeaWorld a number of times, so he knew where to offload his passengers, and then park the motor coach until it was time to go home.
When the motorcoach stopped just opposite the park's entrance ticket booths, Mr. Ken asked everyone to wait inside until he had their tickets. The man then got off the bus and headed to the Will Call Window to pick up their tickets. When he got there, he found Chris Dominions and his family were already waiting for the tickets. Sandra, Hailey and Chris Jr. came over to Ken Thomas and they all said 'Hi' to the man and thanked him for inviting them to visit SeaWorld with him.
In no time, the worker at the Will Call Window brought them 55 tickets. Mr. Ken thought they were buying 54 tickets, so he asked Chris why there were 55. Chris told Ken that he initially bought 50 because there were 39 lads, 10 chaperones plus him. Then, he told his boss he added one for the driver and that made it 51 then he added his family for 55. Chris then apologized he just forgot to subtract the extra ticket. Mr. Ken thanked him for thinking that far ahead, as he never even considered what the motor coach driver would do for the next ten hours.
Chris and his family took their four tickets and Mr. Ken took the other 51 over to the motorcoach. The adults came off the coach first and as they departed Mr. Ken gave each of them their entrance tickets. As the lads exited the motor coach they, too, received their admission ticket and many of the boys thanked the man for inviting them and paying their way into SeaWorld.
When everyone had their ticket, Mr. Ken walked back into the bus and turned to the driver and offered him one, too. The man thanked him for buying him one, but he told the man they automatically received one from the amusement parks as a thank you for bringing their bus full of guests. Mr. Ken thanked the driver for his honesty as the ticket could be used at any time until the end of the year. Now, Mr. Ken had to find a deserving family of three or three separate individuals standing in line waiting to buy their own tickets.
Mr. Ken stepped out of the motor coach with a puzzled look on his face. Robert saw the look and went over to his 'dad' and asked him what was wrong. When the teenager learned what his 'dad' needed to do, Robert asked if he could look around with him and help find three deserving people. Of course, Robert had to tell his friends what Mr. Ken was going to do, and Charles hearing him went over to his 'dad' and asked him if he could help, too.
Robert and Charles accompanied their 'dad', Mr. Ken, as he walked over towards the Ticket Booths where they looked through the people in line waiting to buy their admission tickets. Charles noticed three lads about their age standing next to two men. The pre-teen nudged his 'brother' to look at where he was pointing and asked what he thought. Mr. Ken, on the other hand, was looking for a family of three to give the tickets too.
"'Dad', over there, there are three boys ... they look to be about our age," said Charles.
"Oh, ok, I guess we need to hurry up and make a decision as everyone else is waiting for us. Let's walk over there," replied 'dad' Ken.
"Hello, my name is Ken Thomas and these two are my foster sons. We seem to have three extra tickets and we would love to offer them to the three lads here. If that is okay with you men?" offered Mr. Ken.
One of the boys looked up to one of the men and said, "Can we dad? It will save us some money we can use to get something good to eat later on."
"Well, son, let me talk to this man, some," said one of the men.
"Oh, hello, my name is Owen and this is my partner, Nathan, and our blended family of boys. Can I ask you why ... why you want to offer our boys your extra tickets?" inquired Owen.
"Oh, well, I brought a busload of people to SeaWorld (Mr. Ken pointed to a large crowd of mostly boys.) and we had one person cancel late this morning and the driver doesn't need one. Also, we bought one extra at the time because of the discount. So, I have these three extra tickets I would love to give to some deserving people. Your boys caught my 'sons' attention, I think because they are about the same age. Please take the tickets and enjoy your day here at SeaWorld," replied Mr. Ken.
"Come on dad, take the tickets," grumbled the youngest looking of the three lads, only to get popped on the head by the older one, presumably his sibling.
"Dad, can we? Please! It will help us to get something better to eat than a pretzel and a coke," spoke up the first lad, again, to who was probably his dad, Nathan.
The other two boys looked directly to the other man, Owen, with hopeful eyes.
The two men turned away to talk for a few seconds and then Owen turned back to Mr. Ken and said, "Yes, thank you. We'll accept the tickets and we both thank you for your generosity. These three are our sons, Jayden, he's 13, and Chase, he's 10 and they are my sons. Ryder is 12 and he is Nathan's son."
Then to the boys, he said, "Boys, Nathan and I will be back for you at about 10. Just wait for us out front, there. (The man pointed at the super large circular cement flower pots.) Jaden, we'll call you and tell you where to meet us. Boys, stay together, and no fighting and NO teasing Chase because he won't ride a ride or won't go into the scary forest, or do any of the other scary things. You hear me?" said Owen more than he asked.
"Yes, dad, we hear you," all three boys answered together.
Mr. Ken asked the two men if they would walk with him a few feet away, so he could talk to them for a moment. Mr. Ken told them he had 39 boys in his group and they were the friends of his four foster sons. Hearing there were four boys, and not two, Nathan asked him where the other two were. 'Dad Ken' called out to the twins and asked them to come over there.
"Gentlemen, these are my other foster sons, Kevin and Kyle. As you can see they are twins. Those other two are Robert, he's 13 and Charles, he's 12. The twins are 11. Kevin, Kyle, go over and wait with your 'brothers' please," asked Mr. Ken.
"Guys, I know this is way out of the ordinary, but ... will you consider letting your three ... accompany us. Here is my card and my phone numbers for each of you. And, just so you know, I have nine chaperones with me who are going to follow the lads as they move around the park. One is a County Sheriff's Lieutenant, one is the Director of CPS in our area, one is an educator, and the rest are parents. So, you can see your lads will be well watched over, and this way they'll also have some boys their age they can hang out with," explained Ken Thomas.
Owen was usually the decision maker of the two, so Nathan took the time to look over Mr. Ken's business card as the owner of The Cove was telling him and his partner about the group he was with. Nathan heard the man telling them about the chaperone's who were there with him and it was then the man recognized the name on the card.
"Sir, Mr. Thomas ... ahh ... Three Finger Cove ... isn't that the place ... where that ... that shoot out happened a number of years ago?" directly asked Nathan.
Mr. Ken smiled at hearing the questions. "Yes, Nathan, that is the place where the attack took place."
"Then ... you're the man who took that bullet for your ... your, what, another foster lad, right?" asked Nathan.
"Well, there is some debate as to that, but ... I am that man," replied Mr. Ken.
Nathan looked at his partner, Owen, and told him he felt the kids would be safe with the man and all the people he has as chaperones. Nathan said the large group would also be good for their boys, and then they won't have to worry about them. Owen thought about that for about two seconds and told his partner that he agreed.
The three men walked over to the waiting boys and it was Nathan who told their sons they were going to let them join Mr. Thomas' group, and they were to listen to the adults watching over the boys.
All three sons jumped for joy and hugged both men and thanked them for letting them hang out with their new friends. The three men shook hands while the seven boys walked over to the large group where Robert introduced the three 'new' lads to the group. Ken got Owen's cell phone number and gave him his and they shook hands one more time and then they went their separate ways.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to give away three admission tickets, but I think the wait will be worth it. Let's all head to the entrance and get this show on the road," said Mr. Ken.
As the group walked through the entrance the area was decorated in pumpkins and hay bales that surrounded a Jack Is Back, stage. The group passed through a cursory bag inspection area before walking to where they would finally enter the park.
As they walked, Judy Turner pulled Ken aside and asked him about the three 'new' lads. Ken explained to her that the dads were going to let the boys enjoy the day without them, and were going pick them up at closing time. The man told her he didn't feel good knowing the boys were going to be on their own for the entire day.
Plus, Ken told Judy the boys didn't have a whole lot of money for them to get something good to eat, so he figured three more wouldn't hurt. Judy laughed at the man, but told him he was a 'good man' for helping the three lads. Then, Judy Turner turned and gave Mr. Ken a big hug.
The group of 51 walked together to the entrance kiosks and had their tickets scanned. They were warmly greeted and welcomed into SeaWorld. Already inside, Chris and his family waited for Mr. Ken and the rest of the adults and boys to enter. Chris wondered what took them so long to get through the entrance booths, and Ken explained to him where the three 'new' lads came from. All Chris could do was laugh at his boss.
Before the large group broke up, it was Dan Fischer who recommended that some of the boys and chaperone's pick up a larger park map that not only showed where everything was but included all the show times, if they were interested in seeing them.
Then, Mr. Ken spoke up and asked Robert if Jayden could join his group and Charles if Ryder could join his. As for Chase, Mr. Ken was very happy that Ryan and Brant had already made him a part of their group. With that done, Mr. Ken said he'd see them at 5 for dinner.
That said the teenagers, including Todd and Conner, headed towards the Steel Eel. Charles and his group also headed in the same direction. The twins and their two groups stayed together and headed towards Shamu's Stadium to watch the show. Ryan, Brant, and Chase also followed the twins. The adults watched which way their group headed off and they quickly followed after them. Mr. Ken stayed with the twins groups and headed to see the Orcas.
All comments are encouraged. You may email Chowhound at: Chowhound