Mr. Ken let the boys sleep-in that Sunday morning. He was up at his usual time and his first task, after taking care of his personal hygiene and putting on presentable clothes, was to retrieve his morning newspaper. After that, he got his first cup of coffee and then sat down to read the paper.
The boys had taken their showers, dressed in school clothes and they all filtered down to the Kitchen Nook by 9:30. By that time, Mr. Ken had finished the main portions of the newspaper and had taken his shower and was ready to go out to breakfast, as well. The Covers took the F-150 to Four Corner's Diner for their morning meal.
"Mr. Wayne, we didn't know you were coming to breakfast with us," said Kyle.
"Yes, your 'dad' remembered how much fun it was when we went shopping the last time, so he invited me to breakfast and then to help you all shop for new clothes," replied Mr. Wayne.
"I call shotgun with Mr. Wayne!" called out Robert.
"And, I got shotgun in 'dad's' car," yelled Charles.
"Ok, then I got shotgun in 'dad's' truck," laughed Kevin.
Mr. Wayne sat there and laughed at the antics of the Cover boys.
The five Covers plus one, almost a Cover, each ordered a good breakfast. Mr. Wayne wanted to talk about the adoption ceremony some more, and then was taken by surprise when Robert told him what happened out in the parking corral the previous day.
Mr. Wayne told the teen, and his 'brothers', that he bet their friends were all stunned at hearing the information, but didn't know how to handle it. The man added that because of their age, he felt they wouldn't necessarily know what to think and how to handle it. Mr. Wayne told Robert that he felt his friends did a good job of supporting him and explaining their position to everyone else.
Charles then spoke up and said that he didn't hear any of their friends say anything about Robert and his parents. He told everyone that their friends just stood there like they were in a daze and didn't know what to say or do.
The large group had a good breakfast and when they were finished they all used the Men's Restroom before loading up in the vehicles. Robert rode with Mr. Wayne, while Kevin had the front seat in the F-150 truck to the chagrin of Charles.
Before they left the parking lot at the Diner, Mr. Ken told the boys that he saw in the Sunday newspaper that the merchants at The Mall were having a real good Sale, so they would go there first for their clothes. Then, the owner of The Cove made a special announcement, for Charles' sake, that they would go to the Outlet Mall for anything else they needed.
When they arrived at The Mall, they headed to JC Penny's. Charles liked the clothes there and the twins remembered going there with Mr. Ken to get their new clothes when they first arrived at The Cove. 'Dad' Ken told his boys they should start looking at what they needed, like long pants, polo shirts, underwear and socks.
Mr. Wayne went with Robert as he looked at the young men's clothes. Mr. Ken stayed with the other three lads as they looked at the new fall styles and sorted through the designs and colors. Mr. Ken had the boys try on what they liked. He wanted to see that the clothes they picked fit well and would not be too small on them in just a few weeks. Charles helped the twins choose some of their clothes and to match them so they made different outfits.
Robert's first stop was the suits. He knew he needed a new one, so tried a few jackets on. He could feel one size was too big for him and the next size down was just right. The teen figured if he bought that one it may not fit when he needed it.
Mr. Wayne asked him when he thought he'd need a suit next and Robert told him probably for the Christmas and New Years' Parties. Mr. Wayne recommended he waits until after Thanksgiving to get the suit, that by then he may have grown enough that the first size he took would fit better and still leave him room to grow. Robert liked that idea and he told Mr. Wayne that and thanked him for suggesting it.
Charles found some new shirts he liked and a few pairs of pants that would go well with them. The twins, with Charles' help, each found a half dozen polo shirts and three pairs of long pants they could wear making lots of different combinations. Mr. Ken was glad the three lads had found stuff they liked.
Robert came up to his dad with more new shirts and pants and also told him what Mr. Wayne suggested about the suit. His dad said he agreed with that advice, and said they'd all need suits for the Holidays and that way they could all get them at the same time.
After Mr. Ken paid for everything, they took the new purchases and put them in the back of Mr. Wayne's vehicle and then headed off to the Outlet Mall to find new sneakers and shoes. That made Charles happy.
Their first stops at the Outlet Mall were the shoe stores. Mr. Ken had the boys try on new shoes that would go with their new suits they'd get right after Thanksgiving. They went to three different formal shoe stores, but the twins said that not knowing what their suits looked like they just couldn't figure out which shoes to get. 'Dad Ken' told them to just get a pair of basic black shoes that felt comfortable. But the lads were having none of that saying they should get their shoes when they get their suits. Mr. Ken just shrugged and said, "Ok."
But the boys did say they wanted to get some new sneakers. They piled into the vehicles and headed over to Puma, New Balance and then onto Nike to try on the different styles.
At Puma the boys checked out the Tazon 6 Athletic shoes, the Puma Tsugi Shinsei shoes and the Easy Rider Marine Sneakers. Kyle liked the last pair they tried, the Marine Sneakers. He liked the blue and gray colors. Kevin saw something called Tsugi Netfit Fade Men's Training shoes, and he asked to try those on. They too had colors of blue and gray but the gray didn't have as much blue in them. Robert and Charles wanted to see what the other stores had before they chose.
At New Balance the boys saw so many different styles and colors they had a difficult time choosing which ones to try on. Mr. Wayne asked the boys what colors they liked and then to have them focus on those sneakers that had those colors. The boys did just that, but they really didn't see anything that called to them, they said. Robert and Charles tried on some all-white shoes and said they felt good on their feet, but they were afraid they'd get dirty too quickly, so they asked Mr. Ken if they could go to the next store. That's what they did.
The next store they went to was Nike. The lads couldn't believe all the different shoe styles and the amount colors the store had. The boys separated, and they went to the back, found the style they liked, looked for their size, chose a color and then took them to the seat where they could change into a shoe and try it on.
Kyle gravitated to the Nike Zoom Cage 3. He liked the blue and especially the white swoosh on the side. They had his size, and he went to his 'dad' and asked him if he could get those. Mr. Ken said he could and then he asked the twin if he wanted a second pair in case they got dirty. Kyle was flabbergasted that he could get a second pair, so he went back and looked at different styles and colors.
Kevin had a difficult time deciding. But he settled on Air Zoom Structure 21. That sneaker had medium blue as its predominant color which faded to dark blue at the back. The Nike swoosh wasn't a bright white but more subdued and the inner liner color was a faded orange. He took them to 'Dad Ken' and asked him if he could get those. Mr. Ken said yes and that he could also get another pair. Kevin hurried back to the shoe aisles.
Kyle came back with his second pair and this sneaker had medium blue tops fading to a dark blue in the back, a white Swoosh and blue laces. When Kevin brought back his second pair of shoes, they had a soft blue top with gray accents and a dark swoosh on the sides. It was obvious to Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne the boys liked blue and its muted colors. They then wondered if they would wear each other's sneakers. They laughed at the thought.
Robert and Charles had picked different shoes and colors. Robert picked a black and gray mesh upper with the Air Max logo on the side. Charles picked a mostly medium gray upper that had a dark swoosh on the side. There was a white sole that added the pop to the sneaker.
Robert saw that the twins had gotten two pairs and asked his dad if he and Charles would get two pair as well. His dad told him that the twins needed more shoes than they did and Christmas was coming. Robert laughed at the inference and let the question drop.
The boys then gravitated to the Nike clothes and asked if they each could get a shirt. 'Dad' Ken looked to Mr. Wayne to see what he'd say. Wayne felt like he was put on the spot, but figured he was being tested by his boss to see how he'd handle it.
"Boys ... do you have any Nike clothes?" asked Mr. Wayne.
The boys looked back and forth to one another to see how they should answer, but Kyle spoke up and said, "Mr. Wayne, I know I don't have any of those fancy t-shirts and I sure would like one."
"Kevin ... do you have any Nike clothes?" Mr. Wayne directly asked the older twin.
"No, sir, I don't. Our parents didn't buy us the best of anything. Yes, we had nice clothes, but they were never as good or as nice as the kids we went to school with had," answered Kevin.
"Ok, you and your brother can get one shirt each. Will that work for you?" laughed Mr. Wayne.
"We can?" shouted Kyle. "What're we waiting for," added the younger twin.
As the twins looked through the different shirts, Mr. Wayne asked Robert and Charles if they had Nike clothes. Charles said he a few t-shirts, but he wears them when they skate and they were getting worn. Robert said he also had a few shirts but, like his 'brother', they were getting faded and worn. Wayne looked to his boss and then back to the two lads and told them they each could get a shirt as well. As they walked off, Mr. Wayne said to them that Christmas was just around the corner. Robert looked back and smiled.
The Covers next stop was to get a light lunch. There were a few fast food restaurants nearby, so the lads chose to go to Arby's. The twins told their older 'brothers' that they stopped at one on their return trip the last time they went to visit their mom and they said they liked it. Everyone got one sandwich and curly fries and a drink. 'Dad' Ken said he didn't want to spoil their dinner in a few hours. Mr. Wayne paid using the new black credit card Mr. Ken gave him to use for Cove purchases.
It was almost 3 PM when they finished eating and Mr. Ken told his boys they had to make one more stop. He told them he wanted them to have a cold weather jacket to use. The boys tried to argue that they didn't need a heavy jacket, but Mr. Ken told them they were going to get a nice medium weight, water-resistant jacket that would help them keep warm during January and February. The boys relented and said OK.
At the store, the lads went over to the jackets and began trying them on. Robert spied some quilted vests and went over to try them on. He found one he liked, so he wore it over to his dad to ask him if he could get that instead of a jacket. The teen's dad looked it over and then said no. Dad explained they needed a long-sleeved one to keep the cold air out. Charles convinced his 'brothers' to pick a jacket that was a bit too large, so they could possibly use it next year and save their 'dad' some money. That's what all the lads did. Mr. Ken laughed when he asked Mr. Wayne to pay the bill.
With their shopping finished, the two-car caravan headed back to The Cove to drop off their purchases. After they drained their dragons, or lizards, and gave Chief a few ear scratches, they headed over to Four Corners for dinner. They ate on the restaurant side that night, as they were all dressed in nice clothes, and Mr. Ken insisted. The owner of the restaurant said they hadn't eaten in there in quite some time and he needed to show his face. It was almost 5 PM when they sat down.
Since the time that Mr. Ken forced the waitresses to put together some tables, they had been told never to do, Mr. Ken had Ed Henry, his restaurant manager, buy some larger tables and a few round ones that sat up to eight people. The boss also told the man to put together any number of tables they needed to service his customers. Ed had done just that.
The party of six sat at one of the new round tables. The wait staff knew who Mr. Ken was, so they worked extra hard to make sure they didn't mess up. They knew the man could be very demanding when he was there, especially when he was there with friends that came with him or arrived unannounced.
The waitress took the group's dinner and drink orders and then after submitting the meal orders to the kitchen she brought their drinks over to them. As they enjoyed their drinks, Ed Henry came over to the table. He asked if everything was alright and told them to ask for him if anything was out of order.
Mr. Ken laughed at what the man just said and asked, "Ed, do you meet every table and give them that same spiel?"
Ed told his boss that he usually didn't say that to all the guests, but that he does stop at tables that have a large number of diners to make sure they get quality service. Mr. Ken thanked the man for taking that initiative. Mr. Ken then introduced Wayne Mitchell to him. The restaurant's owner told his manager that Mr. Wayne would be filling in for him at times and when he arrives he represents him. Ed got the inference and told Mr. Ken he definitely would watch for him. The two men had a laugh over that and then Mr. Henry went about his business.
The covers ate handsomely that night. Everyone started their meal with a salad and their dressing of choice. They each also ordered a medium done steak, a baked potato and a vegetable, and refills of their drinks.
Ken and Wayne talked about what happened at the Nike store and Ken did tell Wayne he was testing him to see if he was going to be a pushover and buy the kids anything they wanted. Mr. Ken told his stand-in he was surprised at the way Wayne handled the situation and told him he probably would have done the same thing. Ken told Wayne that he didn't know what clothes the boys had and that was an ingenious way to get the lads to fess up. They both smiled after they finished talking.
When the waitress had cleared their table after they finished eating, she asked them if they were ready for dessert. The boys said they were full and would like to walk it off before they got dessert. Mr. Ken asked for the check and when it was presented to him he passed it on to Wayne. That somewhat surprised the boy-wrangler, as he'd been asked to pay for things earlier but he knew exactly what to do. He pulled out his black AmEx card and gave it to the woman. When the bill came back, Wayne added a 20% tip to the bill and then put his credit card and his receipt into his wallet.
"Dad, why'd you make Mr. Wayne pay some of the bills tonight?" asked Robert.
"Well, son, I was testing him to see how he handles things particularly like the big bill we had this evening," replied the teen's dad.
"Oh, did you do that to him when we were asking if we could get some Nike shirts, too?" continued Robert.
"Yes, I did. So far he's handled everything very well. He did a great job when I was away for that weekend and that was probably his biggest test. Our Mr. Wayne is going to work out, I'd say," added Mr. Ken. Robert smiled at hearing that.
As the lads walked out of the restaurant, Kyle asked if they could go drive the go-karts before they went home. The other Lads joined in at the suggestion, so the six went over to the Go-Kart Track and got into line. They waited about 45 minutes before it was their turn.
The group let the twins go first with Robert and Charles next in line and Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne bringing up the rear. When the light changed to GREEN the twins peeled out and took a big lead. Ken and Wayne were surprised the younger lads had done that, but they knew Robert wouldn't let that last for very long. By the fourth lap, Robert and Charles had passed Kevin, but Kyle was still driving hard.
Kyle hadn't been driving the karts all that long, but he had confidence that he could win if he drove hard and as fast as he dared. He knew Kevin had faded, and he was out there all alone in the front. He figured Charles and Robert would soon try to pass him. The thing was the twin didn't know which of his 'brothers' would try it first, and if he could block him.
Kyle was still out front on the seventh lap, but he could hear the two karts close behind him. Then Robert tried to pass. Kyle knew he had to block, but what he forgot was Charles was back there, too. Then, when the twin did a good block on Robert, Charles had enough room to pass on the other side and he took the lead. Kyle was mad at himself for not doing a better job of blocking, but he knew he didn't have the experience his older 'brothers' had.
When Kyle started to over think about what he'd done wrong, his inattention to his driving allowed Robert to pass him. The teen then raced as fast as he could to catch up to Charles and he had by the middle of the tenth lap. Charles knew he had to do better than his best, if he wanted to win. He could hear Robert behind him and they had one more curve to get through before the straightaway into the checkered flag.
Robert went wide hoping Charles would try to block, so he could go right where there would be an opening. But Charles fooled his older 'brother' and didn't take the bait of the outside pass. Charles knew that even if Robert got to the side of him he'd get the win because the teenager didn't have the line to the flag. Charles won.
"That was a good race you did today Kyle," said Mr. Wayne. "I was impressed you were able to outrace your older 'brothers' there for a while."
"Yeah, I thought I could win, but I over blocked Robert and let Charles pass me on the right. Then, I over thought what I'd done wrong, and by then Robert had passed me. But, I know I don't have the experience that Robert and Charles have, Mr. Wayne, but I'll get there one day, and soon. I hope," replied Kyle.
As Mr. Wayne and Kyle were talking about their race, the other drivers were congratulating Kyle on the show he put on there tonight. 'Dad' Ken even hugged the lad for doing so well. As they walked away, Mr. Dan came up to the group.
"Hi there Covers'," called out Sheriff's Lieutenant Dan Fischer.
"Hey, Dan, you have the night off?" teased Mr. Ken.
"Yes, I do get a weekend day off, now and then, but not that often. I stopped by The Cove earlier this afternoon and the guards told me you and the boys had gone out shopping and wouldn't be back until later tonight. I figured you'd stop over here for dinner, so I thought I'd stop over, too, but I had just missed you. So, from what I hear Kyle did a good job of driving the karts tonight," replied Dan.
"Mr. Dan, you should have seen me. I was winning the race until I made a mistake and let Charles pass me. Then, soon after that, I lost my focus and Robert passed me. But, I came in third, so I am happy with how I drove tonight," an excited Kyle spurted out.
Everyone laughed at the exuberance of the younger twin.
"Dad, can we play a round of miniature golf?" asked Robert. "It's still early as we ate early. ... Ahh, can we dad?"
"Will you play with us, Dan? Wayne is buying tonight," laughed Ken Thomas.
Dan looked at the hopeful expression in all four boys faces, so he agreed to play a round of miniature golf. They walked over to the starter shack and got in line. The line wasn't all that long for a Sunday night and when they got to the ticket stand Mr. Ken waved Wayne up to pay for seven players. Wayne laughed at having to use his credit card, again, but he knew his boss was just pulling his chain that night.
As the group picked up their putters and selected a colored ball, the Miniature Golf Course manager called Mr. Ken over.
"Mr. Ken ... you see that young lad sitting on the bench?" asked the man.
"Yes, I noticed him sitting there when we went over to the Go-Kart Track," replied Mr. Ken.
"Well, ahh, he's been sitting there since about 10 AM this morning. I wasn't here then, but when I started my shift at 3, he was pointed out to me. I've been watching him ever since and all he ever does is leave to use the bathroom. I've also never seen him eat anything, so my bet is he is very hungry."
"No one has ever come by to talk to him, either, so I am a bit concerned about him. When I saw you walk up with Lt. Fischer, I figured I'd tell you. Otherwise, I would have called the Sheriff's office later if no one came to get him," explained the manager.
Mr. Ken thanked the man, and he walked over to the lad and tried to make conversation.
"I'm not supposed to talk to strangers," the boy told Mr. Ken.
"Can you talk to a policeman?" asked Mr. Ken.
"I guess," replied the young boy.
"Hey, Dan ... can you come over here, please?" called out Mr. Ken.
Dan walked over to his friend who told him what he knew about the lad sitting there on the bench. Ken also told Dan that the boy said he'd talk to a policeman, so Ken asked Dan to bring out his badge and try to get some info out of the lad.
As Dan pulled his badge out of his back pocket, he approached the boy. "My friend, Mr. Ken here, tells me that you can't talk to him, but you can talk to a policeman. I am Lt. Dan Fischer and I work for the Sheriff's department. Here is my badge and my identification card. Will you talk to me, please," calmly Dan said, as he talked to the youngster.
"Yeah, I guess I can," said the scared looking boy.
"Can you please tell me your name?" asked Dan.
"My name is Matthew," replied the lad.
"Matthew, are you hungry?" asked Dan.
"Yes, sir. I haven't had anything to eat since breakfast. My mom said she'd be right back, but ... but she hasn't come to get me, yet," responded a teary-eyed Matthew.
Mr. Ken heard that response, and he called Robert over. The teen's dad gave him some money and asked him to go buy a hot dog and a coke for the boy and to hurry. Robert quickly walked away to the refreshment stand of the Miniature Golf Course and ordered what his dad asked him to get.
Mr. Dan sat down next to the lad, so the boy didn't have to look up at him and make it seem he was towering over the smaller boy. Dan asked the boy about his mom and where she was supposed to have gone. Not getting an answer, Dan asked the lad where he lived and did he know his mom's cell phone number. The lad told him where they were living, but said his mom didn't have a cell phone, that she used her boyfriend's.
As Dan and Matthew talked, the other golf players walked down to find out what was going on. Mr. Ken told them they may have identified a lad whose parents dropped him off earlier that morning and haven't come back for him, yet. He also told them he sent Robert to get him something to eat. The owner of The Cove asked them to go ahead and start playing and Robert would play with him and Mr. Dan once they got things sorted out. Mr. Wayne gathered up the three Cover boys and they headed to play their round of miniature golf.
Robert came back with the hot dog and a coke and presented it to the boy. "I didn't know if you liked ketchup or mustard, so I brought you some of each to put on your dog," explained the teenager.
"Thank you," said Matthew, and took the offered food.
Robert saw it was going to be awkward for the lad to juggle the hot dog and the coke, so the teen offered to help. Matthew thanked him and Robert sat on the other side of the younger boy.
Dan got up and walked away with Ken following along.
"Dan, what do you think?" asked Ken.
"Ken ... I haven't gotten too much info out of the boy, but once he gets some food in him, he might open up. At least, that is what I am hoping will happen. Maybe with Robert sitting there with him, the boy will relax some. Let's just stand back and watch," replied Dan.
Robert and Matthew talked as the younger boy ate. Robert told him that he was just adopted by the man talking to the lieutenant. The teen also told the boy about his other three 'brothers' and that he and they were all very happy living with the man. Matthew was surprised upon hearing that and told Robert that he wished he had a good home to live in. The younger boy told the teen that he's lived in house after house ever since the beginning of the summer.
Dan saw when the lad had finished eating his hot dog, so he went over to the lad to talk to him again. Robert decided he'd better walk away because he knew that's what the adults would ask him to do, anyway.
When Dan sat down, Matthew turned to talk to him and as he did that he bumped his coke and it spilled. The boy was startled and then he began to sob. Through his tears, he said his mom's boyfriend will be very mad at him for wasting the soda. Hearing what the boy said, Dan reached over to pat him on his back and to tell him everything would be ok. It was when Dan touched the lad's back the boy winced. That got Dan's attention, and he knew right away they had something worse than a late arriving mom.
The twins kept looking back to where their 'dad' was talking to Mr. Dan and the boy. By the fifth hole they weren't concentrating on the game, and they told Mr. Wayne they were going to go over and see what was happening and maybe talk to the boy who looked to be their age. Mr. Wayne didn't say anything as the boys walked off the course. He and Charles followed the twin boys.
Dan talked to Ken and told him what he thought. The two men decided right away they needed to get CPS and Dan's office involved. Dan said he'd call his office while Ken called Judy.
"Hello, Judy, we have a situation here," said Mr. Ken, when Judy Turner answered her phone.
"What kind of situation, Ken?" asked Judy.
"Judy, we sort of found a young lad here at Four Corners that may have been abandoned by his mom. Also, when Dan touched Matthew's back, he winced. We both figured the boy has been beaten. Dan is calling his office to have them send a car over. We both figured the boy will need to go to the hospital to get checked out. We want you to come over and take custody of Matthew," explained Ken.
"Ken, you say his name is Matthew, did you get a last name?" inquired Judy.
"I didn't ask Dan. He's the one talking to him as the lad told me he isn't supposed to talk to strangers," replied Ken.
"At least, the boy has been taught some things by his mom, then. Ok, here's what I'd like you to do. You guys get him to the hospital, and I'll meet you over there. Let me know when you are on your way. This way I have time to get dressed and gather up some papers I'll need," suggested Judy.
"Ok, I'll tell Dan what you want to do. I'll call you when we leave to go over to the hospital then," replied Ken.
As Mr. Ken and Mr. Dan were making their phone calls, the twins came over to the young lad. Robert introduced his 'brothers' to Matthew, and thus introduced the lad to Kevin and Kyle. Robert asked them to sit down and talk to Matthew, while he talked to his dad.
"So, you're Robert's brothers?" asked Matthew.
"Well, we're his foster 'brothers', but we call one another 'brother', anyway," replied Kevin.
"Oh, Robert says you have a good place to live and lots of food and skateboard ramps and an indoor swimming pool. I bet it is fun living there," said Matthew.
"Yeah, this is the first time for us that we've been in foster care," began Kyle, "but our 'brothers', they have been in other foster homes and they didn't like it there. They told us about bad food and poor clothes. We are glad Mr. Ken was the one who took us in."
"I wish I had a permanent house to live in. My mom met this guy and ... and we've been living in lots of places ever since the start of the summer. And, I haven't even been to school yet this school year and I know I'm missing a lot. They'll keep me back, I know, and I'll be an old man by the time I graduate from high school," lamented Matthew, who then had tears in his eyes.
As the twins and Matthew talked, the patrol car arrived and Sheriff's Deputy George Carrillo went over to talk to Lt. Fischer and Mr. Ken. Ken revealed Judy's plan and asked if Dan had gotten the boy's last name. Dan and the Deputy walked over to Matthew and asked him what his last name was. Matthew asked if he was going to be arrested and taken to jail. Matthew told the men that was what his mom told him would happen if he moved from the bench.
The decision was made to take Matthew to the hospital to get him checked out. The Deputy called in and told them what was going on and that Lt. Fisher was there on the scene. The Deputy further radioed that the Director of CPS asked that the boy be taken to the hospital, and she would meet them there. He told his dispatcher that was where he was headed.
Mr. Ken told Wayne what they were going to do and then gathered his boys and told them they were going to meet Ms. Judy at the hospital. Robert would ride with Mr. Wayne and the other lads would ride with him. The lads returned all the putters and golf balls to the Starter Shack.
As Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne waited for them, the manager gave Mr. Ken a thumbs up. Mr. Ken waved back. It was then, Mr. Ken remembered to call Judy.
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