Three Finger Cove: Matthew ~ Book Five

Chapter Twenty~Seven

All the people in The Cove last night got a good night's sleep. Even Chief slept well, as she bunked in with Matthew. Even as she slept, she was ready to spring into action if her roommate had a bad dream or nightmare. She'd seen a number of them ever since Robert arrived, almost nine months ago, and knew that they caused screaming, calling out someone's name, incessant sweating and tremendous amounts of crying. All was well in her world that night.

Being a school day, Ken Thomas woke up two hours earlier than he would on a non-school day. He groggily got out of bed, walked to his urinal, peed, rinsed the sandman's leftovers from his eyes, put on his sleeping shorts and Crocs, then he headed to the Foyer Door. Remembering how cold the mornings have been lately, he got his jacket and proceeded outside to retrieve his morning newspaper.

Momma Maria drove into The Cove grounds while Mr. Ken was outside and they both waved. Momma Maria proceeded to the parking corral before entering the house. Mr. Ken quickly went back into the house through the Foyer Door, hung up his jacket and headed to the Kitchen Nook.

"Goods mornings, Mr. Kens," said Momma Maria. "Yours coffees will bees readys bys thes times yous opens yours papers."

Mr. Ken sat down, pulled the paper from the protective sleeve, and by the time he'd set the sections aside, Momma Maria had his first cup of coffee ready and placed on his right.

"Thank you, Momma," said Mr. Ken, as he took his first sip of the very hot liquid. He then got into reading his newspaper.

The Cover boys were all in the shower after visiting the conveniently placed urinals and brushing their teeth. Even though Matthew had only been in the household for two weeks, he was getting used to the morning routine. He no longer shied away from being naked in front of his 'brothers' and the more he did it the more it became second nature to him. Even if he had his morning stiffie, he no longer cared if his 'brothers' saw it as he had seen theirs just as much.

The five boys entered the Kitchen Nook one behind the other, almost as if they were in a military formation. They each stopped to say Good morning to Mr. Ken and give him a hug before sitting down at the Nook's breakfast table.

"Boys, it is cold out there again. So, make sure you wear a hat and button up your jacket. Santa will probably have to get you all gloves this year," said a smiling 'dad' Ken.

The boys talked some about the coin and they decided to tell anyone who asks that the coin had a steel base, which is why it is heavier than a silver dollar coin. Mr. Ken heard that conversation and he told them, "Boys, I think you need to Google the specific weights of different metals.

"There aren't many metals heavier than silver, so you shouldn't tell people the coin is made of steel. If anyone asks about what it is made of just tell them it is bigger than a silver dollar, which is why it seems heavier and your 'dad' didn't tell you what it is made of. But whatever you do, do not let them think it is a silver coin. People who hear that might try to steal it from you. I guess I need to change the color of the coin for the next batch."

The boys agreed to say what Mr. Ken told them. They also told one another they should try not to look at the coin any more. Robert told his 'brothers' that if anyone asks to see it to tell them too many people were asking about it, so you left it at home. The other Cover boys liked that, so they all practiced saying it.

After the boys left for school, Mr. Ken, seeing it was a little past 7 AM, decided to get cleaned up for the day before anything comes up and keeps him from doing just that. The man thanked Momma for again fixing a great breakfast. He then told the woman where he was headed and he'd be back in about twenty-five minutes.

Knowing the contractors were coming to visit with his employer, Mr. Chris decided to get to The Cove early that morning. He wanted to review the project folder and brief Mr. Ken on anything he felt was important. That way his boss would not be caught off guard if the men ask him questions about the project.

Mr. Chris waited until Mr. Ken walked into his Study to go talk to him. The Estate Manager wanted to remind the man about what he was wanting in the project, so none of the contractors would try to substitute or eliminate something to help make their proposal look better than any of the other contractors.

Mr. Ken appreciated the briefing as he'd lost focus on that particular project. The owner of The Cove let Mr. Chris know that Wayne would be his project manager, but he wanted Chris to sort of 'bird dog' the project. He also wanted his Estate Manager to sit down with Wayne and discuss the construction schedule and review its progress.

As the men were talking, The Cove's phone at Mr. Ken's desk rang.

"Three Finger Cove," answered The Cove's owner.

"Oh, so formal. I thought it was The Cove now?" replied Ms. Judy. "By the way, I have some info on Grace Turnsten."

"Great! Judy, I'm going to put this call on speaker. I want Chris to hear what you have to say," replied Mr. Ken. "Judy, tell us what you know."

"Ken ... the woman came to the office first thing this morning. She got the forms she needed to start the process to get supervised visits with Matthew. The receptionist also told her it would be best for her to hire a lawyer, as her request is somewhat protracted and complicated.

"Anyway, she has the forms and the question is 'will she follow through'?'. I also wanted to call and tell you that as I reviewed Matthew's folder, because we needed to add a note his mom was going to apply for supervised visits, I noticed an important date would soon be here," said Judy, Director of CPS.

"What is it, Judy? What is it that is so important that you are teasing me, us. Come on Judy, tell us," almost begged Mr. Ken.

"Ken ... it's Matthew ... he has a birthday coming up. It's this Saturday. Now you better get in gear and plan for something as he turns eleven," revealed Ms. Judy.

"Wow ... I haven't looked at my folder on him, so I thank you for that heads-up. If you hadn't called I would definitely have missed it. I've been so busy with everything I'm working on plus with the Holidays coming up I am swamped. And, sometimes I don't know which way I am pointing," replied Mr. Ken.

"Oh, Judy ... while I have you on the phone, Chris and Wayne are working on a trip for the boys and their friends to Six Flags. It is going to happen during the first week of their Holiday break and I hope earlier than later. I said that so Mr. Chris knows my druthers.

"... ..."

"Why I mentioned that is ... is because I need chaperones, again. You did such a great job the last time and I am hoping ... well, I was hoping you'll jump at the chance to join us," said Mr. Ken.

"Ken ... to be honest with you, that week ... it will probably be one of the busiest, if NOT the most brutal for us. Things always seem to go bump-in-the-night for a number of our boys and girls during that time of year, so I truly need to be here to help. Maybe you can get Mary to help," replied Judy Turner.

As Mr. Ken and Ms. Judy were talking, the Main Gate guard called to let him know his 10 o'clock appointment had arrived. Mr. Ken told the guard to sign him in and there would be two more contractors arriving soon. Knowing he would be out in the cold morning air, the owner of The Cove peed, got his medium weight jacket and a hat and put them on before heading up to the Main Gate to meet with the three contractors.

When Mr. Ken arrived up at The Cove's entrance, Mr. Wayne was waiting along with two of the company representatives who would be bidding on his project. While they introduced one another the last of the company reps arrived, so the introductions began all over again.

Mr. Ken did mention to all the company reps that Wayne Mitchell would be his project manager and would have the authority to make design changes and authorize cost increases that were justified and reasonable.

The owner of the Cove, and the man paying the bill, also told them his Estate Manger, the person who initially contacted their companies, would be somewhat involved, since he was the one who actually wrote the checks. The men understood what Mr. Thomas meant.

The five men walked along the makeshift road that followed The Cove's upper perimeter wall. As they walked, Mr. Ken mentioned that he heard that some of them might have a few suggestions to add to the project. So, he asked them to tell him what they thought.

One contractor's delegate told The Cove's owner that the road they were walking on was an example of what would enhance the project and make it so much easier to get to and from the site and get supplies there, as well. The man suggested the road be made into a permanent, concrete driveway twelve feet wide that would match and enhance the entire estate.

Another contractor suggested they place wind sail sunshades at strategic points over the project to provide much-needed shade during the warmer, sunnier months. Mr. Ken thought that was a fantastic idea, but he didn't play his hand.

The agent of the company, who told Mr. Chris of their ideas, spoke up last.

"Mr. Thomas ... we think this an awesome project for your boys, but we noticed that there was a noticeable facility missing for them and their friends. Our first suggestion is ... we believe what would enrich this awesome project would be to add a hardened covered shelter, very much unlike the canvas shade sails my competitor is suggesting.

"The reinforced building would provide protection against sudden storms and especially lightening as the building would be grounded with incorporated lightning rods. Along with that, we believe another vital element is missing.

"Our second suggestion is ... that under that shelter ... you provide restrooms for both sexes and a closet for supplies. As you can see, it is quite a distance from up here to the house. So that facility, I am very sure, would be greatly appreciated by anyone who is up here on this slight rise and in need of the facilities," was how the third representative presented his proposals.

Mr. Ken liked all the ideas he just received and put them in the back of his mind, as he wanted to talk to them before they all left. As he was reviewing the added proposals, in his mind, all five men walked the site. As they walked around, Mr. Ken asked Mr. Wayne if he had any questions or comments.

"Yes, sir, I do. Thank you, Mr. Ken," offered Wayne Mitchell.

"Gentlemen, how big would the shelter be and can it be large enough that we can incorporate a stationary gas or propane grill under it. Along with that, I'd want to know if you could also incorporate fixed, outside type tables and seats, under the shelter, along with the addition of an industrial refrigerator-freezer. And along with that, I would also like to see some bleachers, at least one on either side, somewhere along the perimeter," finished Mr. Ken's Estate Master and project manager.

One of the company representatives balked at all the additional requirements. He looked directly at Wayne Mitchell and said to him, "Sir, for us to add all those things, that you just mentioned, it would add at least a ... at least another 2 or 3 weeks, if not more, because of the upcoming Holiday, to the design phase. I hope you can delay your project that long."

Mr. Wayne looked back to the man and said, "It sounds sir ... that you and your company are not interested in competing for this premier project. This undertaking will be a feather in any one of your caps and definitely would be a company enhancement feature in your brochure.

"The company who aggressively and competitively submits the best proposal, and wins this project, will be able to show your future clients, that it was YOUR firm... that was selected to build this for one Mr. Kenneth Richard Thomas. As everyone knows he is a hero for not only taking a bullet for someone, but was instrumental in helping save a young teen's life out on the lake this past summer.

"As I said, this finished venture will enhance your brochure, as you all well know the scope and reason for this. Also, being asked to build on the Three Finger Estate is a game-changer in anyone's cap.

"Well," began Wayne Mitchell, "gentlemen ... what I propose is ... is due to the late nature of the potential added features, I ask you to bid primarily on the project as you were asked to. I would also ask you to submit separate proposals for building the concrete driveway from the Main Gate to over here at a place to be determined and to supply wind sail sun shades over at least half of the project."

"On top of that," started Mr. Ken, "I would appreciate your proposal for a hardened shelter with lightning protection, restrooms, closet, and barbeque area, outside tables and seating, and an industrial-sized refrigerator-freezer with lock. We can add the bleachers at any time.

"As you know, from what Mr. Dominions sent to you, your final bid is due within the next week. I want the construction to begin quickly after the New Year. And, your proposals for the added features could be submitted by the end of January, if you need that much time.

"Keep in mind that this project has a high priority for me and its completion on time or sooner is paramount. Of course, the usual weather delays in any construction project are understood. Now ...do any of you have questions for me or my project manager?" finished Mr. Ken.

The five men walked back to the Main Gate. The man who balked at the added features didn't have anything to say along the way. The other two company reps openly and enthusiastically asked about the added features and what Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne had in mind. As the company agents got into their vehicles, they told Mr. Ken their final proposals on the initial project should be there by the first of next week.

When Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne returned to the Study, the men found their faces red and their ears were very cold to the touch. They both used their hands to warm up their ears. While the men did that, Momma Maria brought in two hot mugs.

"What's this?" asked Mr. Ken.

"That's verys hots chocolates fors yous tos warms ups with. Izz brings yous yours coffees in a littles bits. Soos yous drinks that downs nows ands gets warms," said Momma Maria.

The two men sat back in the soft leather chairs and enjoyed the hot chocolate drink. It even had mini marshmallows floating on top. While they sat, they talked about the meeting they just had with the three companies who expressed interest in Mr. Ken's project.

Mr. Wayne told his boss that the company who balked at his multiple suggestions would be thrown out if he had anything to say about it. The Estate Master said if that man's attitude towards getting projects were any indicator to the whole operation of the company, he wouldn't trust that company to do any work for him.

Mr. Ken told Mr. Wayne he now wished he had brought him into the development stage of the project after hearing his suggestions. The Cove's owner said he thought every one of Wayne's suggestions were perfect to make the project a complete success. Mr. Ken said he just hopes the other two companies will bid on all of the added features.

It was while they talked that Jules Diamond called Mr. Ken. The owner of The Cove didn't put the call on the speaker, but Mr. Wayne understood that Mr. Diamond was stopping by to talk to his boss about what happened at the Main Gate while they were away at Collin's

"That was Jules. He's going to stop by about 1 o'clock, right after lunch. If you're here I'd like you to sit in on our discussion. I don't think there is much more we can do, but just talking about Grace and how his men reacted could form other plans of action he can have his employees take.

"Ohh, Wayne ... one more thing. It's Matthew's birthday this Saturday. Ms. Judy told me earlier today when she called to tell me his mom picked up the forms she can use to begin her application request for supervised visits. We both hope she doesn't get them. I've been keeping Matthew informed when I learn something about his mom, just so you know.

"I also told Chris to get with you to plan the Six Flags trip. I hinted to him that I think early in the week would be best, because as we get closer to the actual Christmas Day I don't want to be rushing around for final presents. And speaking of presents... what do I get Matthew for his birthday?

"With Christmas only twenty days later I don't want to overdo his presents, but I don't want to reduce what he receives from Santa either. He seems to gravitate to you, so maybe you can talk to him. I even wonder if he remembers this Saturday is his birthday?" finished Mr. Ken.

"I think you should come right out and ask him," laughed Mr. Wayne. "Then, ask him what he would really like for his birthday. You may be surprised at how he reacts. Also, are you going to have just a 'family' birthday party or are you going to do it up big?" Mr. Wayne laughed some more.

"Ohh, you're NO help," teased the boss.

At school that morning, some of the other students heard about the special coin Mr. Ken gave his foster sons and they wanted to see it, too. The twins were able to fend them off by saying what the practiced before school. They also had their friends to act as buffers for them.

Robert and Charles were also able to get the kids, who asked about the coin, to leave them alone after they told them they left their coins at home, because it was causing too much controversy.

Matthew, on the other hand, had some difficulty trying to stop the other kids from wanting to see his special coin. Even though his three friends tried to help fend them off, some of the kids were very persistent. Finally, Matthew was fed up and told them he'd bring it tomorrow. That got them off his back, for now, but now he had to figure out what to do tomorrow.

At lunch, Matthew went looking for Robert. When he found his older 'brother', he told him what he said. The young Cover then asked Robert what he could do. Robert said he'd talk to his 'dad' after he gets back from his doctor's appointment.

Matthew wanted to know how he could do that, so the teen told him how Doctor Doug appointments are during the school day and are over with before the school lets out for the day. Robert told his young 'brother' he'd be home before him, so he'll ask and hopefully have an answer by the time he gets home.

Jules Diamond arrived at The Cove promptly at 1 PM. The guard on duty at the gate knew the man was his boss, but he still checked him in before allowing him to proceed into the estate. Then, while the security company owner drove down towards the front door, the guard called Mr. Ken to tell him who was arriving.

Momma Maria brought the three men some coffee and some of her sweet cakes for them to enjoy as they talked. Jules got right down to the reason they were there. He'd brought all the reports, so his client could review them as they talked.

Mr. Diamond apologized for not having a copy for Wayne, but he wasn't told he'd be there. Mr. Ken said that wouldn't be a problem as he walked behind his desk and copied them for his estate Master. All three men now had the reports in their hands.

As they reviewed the reports, Mr. Ken told Jules he felt his men did the right thing. He said they didn't overreact and when they were threatened they did the right thing by calling in the Sheriff's Deputies. Jules said he wanted to make sure his client saw what his men reported and ensure Mr. Ken felt what he was paying for was up to his expectations.

"Wayne ... what do you make of the reports?" simply asked Mr. Ken.

"Well ... the reports are thorough enough, but ... did anyone look at the video of what happened?" answered Mr. Wayne.

That question startled both men. Mr. Ken got up from his leather seat and went behind his desk. There, he turned to his computer and after making a few keystrokes he had access to all the videos ever made by his extensive camera system. He had Jules and Wayne come around to his desk so they could see, as well.

Mr. Ken called up the first incident with Grace and it appeared to go down as reported. He checked on the second and third incidents with Grace Turnsten and determined what was reported by the guards was essentially what happened between the woman and the security men.

Jules Diamond was relieved his men acted properly and reported exactly what happened. Mr. Ken and Mr. Wayne both saw the look of relief on the security company's owner's face. They both inwardly smiled that the man was afraid the videos would show that his man had done something very different from what they reported.

"Jules ... I'd ask you not to tell your men that I can review all of their actions. That way they won't second-guess themselves, because they know someone is watching. We'll only tell them about the video system if and when they have a very serious incident and that there is a question to the appropriateness of their response. Agreed?" asked Mr. Ken.

The men finished their meeting in time for Mr. Wayne to drive over to the school and sign out Robert and take him to his appointment with Doctor Doug. The three shook hands and then Jules Diamond and Wayne Mitchell departed The Cove.

After he knew Jules Diamond and Mr. Wayne had left, Mr. Chris stopped by the Study to talk to Mr. Ken about his meeting with the contractors. Mr. Ken told him about the suggestions Wayne had made and what he told the company agents about submitting the main project proposal by next Monday.

Mr. Ken told his Estate Manager he asked the contractors to submit their proposals for the other added projects by the end of January. Mr. Ken explained those add-ons wouldn't be started until the main project was well enough along. Mr. Chris thanked his employer for that update and he'd watch the mail for the bids.

Mr. Chris also had the list of bands and previous teenagers who worked the Holiday parties at The Cove. The Estate Manager said he called all the bands, but the contact was at school. Mr. Chris told his boss that the person he talked to told him the boy would call Mr. Thomas later that evening. Mr. Ken thanked him for that heads-up.

Mr. Ken then asked his contracts manager about what prizes he wanted to offer the winner of the Toy Soldier competition. Mr. Chris told his boss he liked Mr. Wayne's suggestion of letting them attend the New Year's Eve Party and to bring one guest. He said that would account for about 60 to 70 people, explaining each team had ten people including the teacher.

Mr. Chris also suggested a $1,000.00 scholarship for each of the winners, a $750.00 scholarship for the 2nd place finishers, and a $500.00 scholarship for the 3rd place finishers for them to use in furthering their training in their designated vocational career field.

The two men talked about how the voting would proceed and after a few ideas they both threw around, it was decided they would give each party guest a plastic chip to place in a box next to the toy soldier they thought should win. They agreed the voting would proceed through the first two hours of the New Year's Eve Party and the winner would be revealed just after 10 PM, so it didn't interfere with the count down to the New Year.

Mr. Ken then wanted to know what he and Mr. Wayne had decided on a date for the Holiday trip to Six Flags. Mr. Chris said he had the largest 57-passenger bus reserved with the option to change the size because he was a repeat customer. As for the date, the man told his boss that he liked that Tuesday as the primary date, but was amenable to Monday, as well.

The next discussion revolved around the number of chaperones they would need. They reviewed who helped, and including Mr. Ken, there were nine chaperones for 42 boys. They then totaled up the number of boys there would be this time. They started with the initial 42 and then added Matthew and his three friends bringing the total to 46, but Mr. Ken said Matthew might want to invite a few more friends.

Mr. Chris said that with 46 boys and a minimum of nine chaperones, plus Mr. Ken, placed the bus size at a minimum of 56. But, Mr. Ken reminded him that Jayden, Ryder and Chase would not be on the bus, as they would meet up with them at the park. Mr. Ken then asked what hours they would want to plan for the trip. Mr. Chris said he thought they could do what they did the last time. They'd leave The Cove at 10 AM and depart the amusement park at 10 PM. Mr. Ken thought that would work.

When they got down to deciding whom to ask to act as chaperones, Mr. Ken told his employee he already had the Sullivan's, Dan and Doctor Doug as firm for the trip. Chris suggested that maybe he could ask Owen and Nathan to help chaperone. Mr. Ken liked the idea and said he'd call them adding it to his list of phone calls he needed to make that night.

Robert returned home from his doctor's appointment well before his 'brothers'. He and Mr. Wayne immediately went to the Study to talk to his dad. Robert told him about what happened at school with Matthew and his telling his classmates he'd bring the coin tomorrow, even though he had it with him.

Mr. Ken laughed at Matthew holding his ground not to show anyone his coin, but his immaturity let him fall into the trap of promising to show his coin tomorrow. Dad Ken told his son that they'd talk about it later tonight, but also told Robert they needed to find a band for the New Year's Eve Party.

Hearing that surprised Robert, but then he remembered Eric telling them he helped choose the band last year. Robert asked which bands would they have to choose from and his dad told him the ones that were performing at the July 4thPicnic. Knowing that, Robert realized it wouldn't be too difficult as he remembered which ones did play and how they sounded. He just hoped Charles would remember them too.

As dad and son talked, Mr. Wayne went looking for Mr. Chris to talk to him about the Holiday Trip. The two men discuss the two dates Chris had just told Mr. Ken he was looking at. After a few minutes, they both agreed on the Monday after school let out for the Holidays. They knew their boss wanted some time afterwards to be able to get last-minute Christmas gifts, so they decided that Monday was best.

The two men told Mr. Ken and Robert their decision at the same time. Robert asked if he could tell their friends and Mr. Ken saw no need to keep it quiet. The Cove's owner then told his son to tell all their friends they still needed four to six chaperones and would like some of the parents, who didn't volunteer the last time, to step up to the plate.

The remainder of the Cover boys returned at their usual time and they stopped by the Study to say 'Hi' to Mr. Ken. Then, all five boys headed to the Kitchen Nook to see about their after school snack.

Seeing what time it was Mr. Ken decided to begin making some phone calls. The man called Christy and then Megan. They both agreed to work again this year. Mr. Ken then called the other lifeguards, Russell, Audrey and Jordan and explained to them what he wanted them to do. Russell and Jordan immediately agreed to work, but Audrey said she needed to think about it.

Mr. Ken remembered he was going to offer Todd a chance to work, so he called him. Todd was ecstatic about being able to work more during the colder months and make money for his college fund and, of course, to help his mom out. Mr. Ken asked him if he knew of any of his classmates who might want to work. Mr. Ken explained that they could work the two Holiday parties, and the New Year's Eve party, if they work out.

Todd said he thought Conner would be interested. The Beach Master told Mr. Ken to give the teen a call and he would think about which classmates might also be interested. The teenager told his employer he'd have to call him tomorrow. Before hanging up, Todd asked how many extras he needed.

Mr. Ken called Conner next and asked him if he was interested. The teen said "Hell yea" then apologized for saying what he did. The teen did tell The Cove's owner he needed to clear it with his parents, but he was definitely interested. Conner said he'd let the man know tomorrow.

When dinner was over, the Covers filled in the seats in the Study, so they could talk with their 'dad'. The first thing they talked about was Matthew's promise to bring his coin tomorrow. That was the first the other three Cover boys heard of that, so they were interested in knowing what happened to cause that.

Matthew explained himself and waited for Mr. Ken to get mad at him for saying what he did. All Mr. Ken did, though, was praise Matthew for fending off his classmates for as long as he had, even though he had his coin in his pocket. Mr. Ken told Matthew to remind his classmates that it was NOT a silver coin and it felt heavy because it is a bit bigger than the silver dollar. Matthew was happy the man didn't yell at him.

The next thing they discussed was the hiring of the band for the New Year's Eve Party. Mr. Ken told the boys the high school students who were creating the Toy Soldiers for the competition would be invited, and the winner would be announced at the New Year's Eve Party.

Robert spoke up and said they would get the chance to decide which band gets to play that night. The twins asked if they were included and 'dad' Ken said everyone would get the chance to listen to all the bands and choose which one they liked, after some Family discussion. Mr. Ken said all the bands' leaders were supposed to call tonight and he would set up their auditions for Saturday.

Just then the phone did ring and it was one of the bandleaders. The boys heard Mr. Ken tell the person what he had in mind and it was agreed they would audition this Saturday at 10 AM. There were three more phone calls and three more auditions to set up.

After setting up all four auditions, the boys realized they would be gone practically all day listening to the four bands and deciding which one they should offer the job. That meant their friends couldn't come over until they got home and the last audition was set for 4 PM. The twins were the first ones to complain they'd miss playing with their friends. Even Matthew jumped in saying he had no idea what he'd be doing with the bands and asked if he could stay home, as well.

In the end, only Robert and Charles decided to listen to the bands. Mr. Ken told the other three they could stay home only if Mr. Wayne would be here. Otherwise, they would have to go whether they wanted to or not. Matthew said that was fair and hoped Mr. Wayne would decide to stay with them. The twins weren't so sure about Mr. Wayne, but said they understood and would wait to know whether they stayed home or not.

"Now ... there are three more items we need to discuss as a family. The first is who will see Doctor Doug tomorrow, and the rest of the week. Charles, you'll go tomorrow, Wednesday, then Matthew will go on Thursday, and Kevin will go Friday. Next week only Kevin, Kyle and Matthew will go.

"The second issue we need to discuss is your Holiday Trip to Six Flags Fiesta Texas. Mr. Chris and Mr. Wayne have decided to do it the Monday before Christmas. We'll leave here as we did for the SeaWorld trip. We'll want all your friends to be here by 9:45 and we'll leave by 10 AM. There will be no sleepovers the night before."

"What about the night when we come back?" Matthew wanted to know.

"Let's talk about that when we get closer to the date. Okay?" replied 'dad' Ken.

"We'll stay at the park until 9 or 10 PM depending on how much fun we're all having. I do need 4 to 6 more chaperones. so ... when you talk to your friends tomorrow, which undoubtedly you will, mention that to them; I would like some parents who didn't help the last time to volunteer.

"I will need a headcount by that Wednesday before you get out of school for the Holidays. Mr. Chris will need to buy the admission tickets, which is why I need to know who is and isn't going with us. Any Questions?

"OK, good, we can discuss this at a later time, since we have the time. Now, for the last issue, we need to talk about. Someone has a birthday this week. ... So ... Matthew how old will you be?" asked 'dad' Ken.

"Me? I have a birthday?" asked an astonished Matthew Turnsten.

"Yes, Matthew your birthday is this Saturday. So, I want you to think about what you want to do for your birthday, and what sort of presents you'd like to have. You don't have to tell me tonight, but the longer you wait the more it will be up to me to decide what we do for your birthday. I only wish I knew about this sooner, but it is what it is.

is"Boys ... do you have anything to bring up for this meeting?" asked Mr. Ken.

"Yea, dad ... when will we get to go out and do our Christmas shopping? And, will you give us some money to buy things with?" asked Robert.

"Well, that is an interesting question. When Collin was with me ... well, now that you are here I must admit that I truly did not consider you boys going out and buying presents. But for whom would you buy them? Hopefully, not all your friends. I'd be in the poor house if you all did that," laughed Mr. Ken.

"We could buy each other a present," spoke up Robert, and seconded by Charles who added, "And ... and you!"

"Ahh, I see ... so, we need to decide on a limit to the cost for each present, then I and Mr. Wayne will need to take you boys out shopping. With each of you buying a present for one another and me that means you'll need enough money to buy five presents," concluded Mr. Ken.

"No dad ... you forgot Mr. Wayne and Momma Maria and what about Mr. Dan and Mr. Chris?" asked Robert.

"Well, let me ask you ... is ten dollars too much or too little?" asked the boys' foster dad.

The boys didn't know all that much about money as the only ones who understood it were Robert and Charles. The two oldest Covers said that ten dollars was a good start, but they needed a list of the people they would buy presents for. It was agreed the only adults the boys would buy something for would be Mr. Ken, Mr. Dan, Mr. Chris, Momma Maria and Mr. Wayne.

It was getting late, so Mr. Ken sent the boys up to their rooms to relax before going to bed. He told them he'd be up to say Goodnight.


All comments are encouraged. You may email Chowhound at: Chowhound