At dinner that night, Mr. Ken told Billy, Charles, and Matthew that Mr. Chris was working on finding the next boater safety class and when he found out he'd let them know. He also told Billy that Mr. Russell was stopping by at seven. The man explained that the lawyer had the information they needed to act on, as the hearing was Thursday night at seven, and that only gave them three nights to formulate a plan.
All the Cover boys wanted to listen in on the meeting later that evening. Robert argued they listened in the other night, and since it concerned their 'brother' they should know what was happening.
'Dad' Ken looked at Wayne to see what he thought and the man just shrugged at the question. Mr. Ken told the boys they could be there as long as Mr. Russell agreed and they stayed quiet. The boys smiled at hearing that.
Stewart Russell arrived at The Cove at 7 p.m. sharp. Mr. Ken met his guest at the Foyer Door and then the two walked to the Study. Mr. Russell smiled when he walked into the Study and saw all the Cover boys seated in the leather chairs. There was one chair remaining for the lawyer to sit in.
"It looks like I'm on trial, here," chuckled Stewart Russell. "I thought I might have walked into a courtroom instead of Mr. Ken's Study," continued the smiling lawyer as he sat down. He then placed his briefcase onto his lap and opened it and took out some papers and a DVD.
"Oh, Mr. Russell," spoke up Billy, "I have almost 40 handwritten eyewitness accounts of the fight last week, and they are all dated and signed." Billy then gave the papers to his lawyer.
"Thank you, Bill. Oh, that reminds me. I talked to your friend's parents this afternoon and I will go over to their homes after school tomorrow and have them give me their depositions on what happened at the high school," replied Mr. Russell.
That taken care of, Mr. Russell told everyone what transpired at Alvin York High School that afternoon. The lawyer went into great detail about how Mr. Ostrowski, the School Board President, was there as he delivered a court order for the school to hand over all four CCTV videos for the morning in question, and a list of all the students in the videos.
When Mr. Ken heard Mark Stanley, the high school's principal, refused to ask the IT Administrator to come to the office to provide the videos, he got a cramp deep in his gut. He figured Principal Stanley was still holding a grudge from when he personally interfered with the ADA's questioning of Collin without a parent, and in his case the legal guardian, and the lawyer being present.
Lawyer Russell also told everyone how Mr. Ostrowski called the IT Administrator to the office and told her to get the CCTV videos, and to make sure she was present at the Board meeting. The lawyer finished by telling the group more about his second court order requiring the high school to name all the students in the videos.
It was then Mr. Ken told Stewart that Brett took a video of the conversation between Bill and the three bullies that afternoon at the school. Billy only had the video on his cell phone so Mr. Wayne took the phone and copied the video to Mr. Ken's computer. When he was finished, he played the video so everyone could watch.
When the video was finished, Mr. Russell said he now knew how the three upperclassmen were going to defend their actions. His only speculation was who was coaching and representing them. Then, Stewart gave the four CCTV videos to Wayne to load onto the computer so they all could watch.
Each video began about ten minutes before the confrontation. That gave the observers almost five full minutes of the large group gathering together before the three bullies came after Billy. Mr. Russell speculated, from what he viewed on the videos, that it was a planned event and not something that was spontaneous.
Billy spoke up and said, from what he heard from the bullies; it was as if they had someone as an 'ace' in the hole for them, come Thursday night. Mr. Ken then said he was now happy had called Jules Diamond to find out as much as he could about the attackers and their friends.
That surprised Mr. Russell and he asked Mr. Ken why he would have that done. Mr. Ken told the lawyer that he had his suspicions, and asked Mr. Diamond to investigate the three teenagers. The owner of The Cove added that now after seeing Brett's video and hearing Mr. Stanley was putting up roadblocks, he was glad he took that step as they only had a few days to prepare for the hearing.
The three adults, Ken Thomas, Wayne Mitchell, and Stewart Russel, got down to talking about what they would do at the School Board meeting on Thursday night. Billy was included in the conversation as it was his future, which was on the line come Thursday evening.
The other Cover boys listened to what the four had to say about the way they would go about defending Billy at the hearing. After about twenty minutes, they all decided they'd go up to their rooms and play some computer games, or just read before going to bed.
As the boys began leaving the Study, their 'dad' called out to them, "Boys, what you heard in this room tonight is NOT, and I stress NOT, to be talked about with any of your friends. We don't want Mr. Russell's' defense ideas for Bill to get out. We also do not want other people to know how we protect and defend our own. Do you all understand?"
The five boys looked at one another and then turned to their 'dad' and told him they understood and would not talk about what was said in the Study to any of their friends. Robert added he wouldn't even talk to Eric about it. That put a smile on his dad's face.
It was almost 10 p.m. when the meeting in The Cove's Study broke up. They all agreed to meet Wednesday night to discuss any new developments and finalize their approach at the School Board's meeting Thursday night.
"Well, Bill ... what are your thoughts about what we intend to do?" asked Mr. Ken.
Billy thought about the question for a few moments and then replied, "What ... what I really appreciate is ... is that you are all supporting me. You are defending me and ... and I am only just a foster kid in your care.
"Before ... I never felt ... before I never felt that I belonged at the other foster homes, but here ... Mr. Ken ... here ... here you made me feel like I am actually a part of ... of your family. Like I am really a part of this big family. You don't treat me any differently than you do any of my 'brothers'.
"My 'brothers' ... just saying that makes me feel so good inside. I never had any brothers, but here...here I have five boys that I can call my 'brothers' and they me theirs. Today ... today Matthew and I had ... we had our snacks together. He and I had fun just talking and joking together. I ... I never had that before.
"Mr. Ken ... I really do appreciate what you are doing for me. What is even better is that ... is that you believed me and ... and you never, you never got mad at me for fighting, for defending myself. I couldn't ask for a better foster dad than you." Billy then broke down and cried.
Mr. Ken took the teenager into his arms and let the boy cry his heart out. The man figured Bill never had strong family support and this was the first time in his fifteen years he ever felt being a part of a 'family'. Mr. Ken promised himself, he'd do whatever he could to make sure the teenager had a good life for as long as he could.
Bill did finish his crying, but it was done in his bed that night. To him, the crying was like a washing of his soul. He felt as if he had found a forever family without even asking for one. He felt so relieved and safe there that he hoped it would never ever end. The teenager slept very well that night.
Breakfast the next morning was quiet as the boys ate. Then, out of the blue Kevin asked, "'Dad', what will happen to Billy if he's found guilty?"
"Dad' Ken had to smile to himself after hearing the question. He then replied, "Bill is not going to trial, Kevin."
"But, it sounds like he is. You were talking about a defense and how the videos will help him, and then there are all those written statements Billy got from his friends. It sure sounds like a trial," spoke up Kevin.
"Boys, Billy was going to be suspended from school because he was fighting. But, he says he was defending himself. The principal wouldn't accept that explanation, so Bill had to either take the suspension, offered by the principal, or ask for a hearing in front of the entire School Board," explained Mr. Ken.
"But what will happen to him if they don't believe him?" now asked Kyle.
"Well, if the School Board doesn't accept Bill's defense, then he could be sent to the alternative high school until the end of the school term. But, since this would be his first offense, maybe they could give him an in-school suspension," replied 'dad' Ken.
"'Dad', are we going to be allowed to go to the School Board Meeting?" asked Matthew.
The other boys, upon hearing the question, spoke up saying they wanted to see Billy defend himself, and what the outcome would be. Mr. Ken hadn't thought about taking all the boys to the hearing, but he figured why not.
"Boys, the hearing starts at 7 p.m. If we all go, you have to have your homework done before we leave. The hearing could last until 10 or 11 o'clock and then you won't get your beauty sleep," cautioned 'dad' Ken.
"But it would be good for us to be there to support our 'brother'," reasoned Mathew.
"OK, ok, you convinced me," said Mr. Ken, with a smile.
"Momma ... the boys and I have a meeting to go to Thursday night, and we have to leave here by 6:30. Can you make us something simple and quick that night for dinner?" asked Mr. Ken.
"Ohs yeses Miester Kens. Mommas makes youse likes noodles and meatsballs. Iss that's oks?' replied Momma Maria.
The boys heard Momma say she would make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner and they all cheered. That put a big smile on Momma's face, as she knew that meal was comfort food for many a boy.
"I guess you heard their response, Momma. They approve of spaghetti and meatballs for dinner Thursday. And, please, let us know if you want to start dinner early that evening. It will be okay with us. It will also give us time to get cleaned up and changed before we leave," said Mr. Ken.
Mr. Ken then looked at the time and told the boys they needed to hurry and wash up and get up to the Bus Stop. The boys all took one last bite of food and scattered from the Kitchen Nook. But before they left for the bus, they all gave Momma a quick hug to thank her for breakfast.
When the Cover boys left for school, Momma asked her boss what videos the boys were talking all about. Mr. Ken told her when she was at a good stopping point; he'd show her the videos. Mr. Ken knew Momma liked being aware of what was happening to 'her' niños.
Many times, she had to surmise what the boys were talking about, but today her curiosity got the better of her. Especially, since all of the Covers were going to a School Board Meeting that seemed to be because of what happened to Bill.
It was then Billy came into the Kitchen Nook. He said "Good morning" to Mr. Ken, Momma Maria, and Chief and proceeded to get the resident pet fresh water and kibble. When he was finished, he washed his hands and then sat down to a wonderful breakfast of hot pancakes, syrup, bacon, scrambled eggs, and orange juice.
"Momma, every time I eat one of your meals, I thank my lucky stars that Ms. Judy brought me here. I have never eaten so good in my life. I'm even putting on weight, so I better get busy and burn it off," said Billy, as he ate his breakfast.
Momma smiled at hearing the accolades Billy gave her. She loved to cook and ever since the boys began to multiply there at The Cove she was in heaven because she was able to cook for the niños morning, sometimes noon, and at night.
"Bill, your 'brothers' ... they asked me if they could go to the hearing on Thursday to support you, and ... well, I said they could. Momma has agreed to make spaghetti and meatballs for dinner that evening, so we all could leave by 6:30. So, be ready for an early dinner, maybe at 5:45ish. That should give us enough time to get ourselves cleaned up and changed for the hearing. You OK with that?" asked a smiling Mr. Ken.
Billy smiled back and said he was. He added that he was happy his 'brothers' would be there to support him. The teen then thanked his foster dad for all the support he's given him, especially for last night. Mr. Ken just smiled back at the boy and told him to finish eating his breakfast.
The oldest Cover teen finished his breakfast and gave Momma Maria a hug for fixing him such a great meal. The teen then went to drain his dragon before leaving to catch the cheese wagon just outside the Main Gate.
After Billy had left for school and when Momma Maria was at a good stopping point, Mr. Ken took the woman to his Study and had her sit down in one of the new leather chairs. The man swiveled the computer around so she could watch the video. When she was ready Mr. Ken started the video that was captured off YouTube.
"Ohhs, Madre de Dios. Bills hased toos fights offs tres adolescentes (three teenagers), Ohhs nosss," said Momma, as she began watching the video.
As the video played, Momma kept her focus on what she was seeing. When she saw how Bill used his feet to push away the first bully she said, "¡Bien por él! (Good for him)." Then when she saw Bill got away and smacked the second bully, she said, "¡Golpéalo bien! (Hit him good)!"
Mr. Ken was astonished at what his employee was saying. He agreed with her, but he was taken by surprise by her being so adamant and for Bill. When the third bully and Bill paired off she was rooting for Bill even more enthusiastically. He inwardly smiled at her actions.
Mr. Ken then explained to Momma Maria what the fight was all about and what they intended to do Thursday night at the hearing. Momma said she hoped Bill won and she would make him a special cake when he did. Then, after thinking about what she said for a few moments, she said she would still bake him a special cake if he loses. The two adults laughed.
"Momma ... I don't know if I told you but ... but Thursday ... it's Bill's fifteenth birthday," said the owner of The Cove. "You could also make it his birthday cake. Ohh ... and Charles' birthday ... it is next Friday; in case I forget to tell you. For him, we might do a big sheet cake and hand-dipped ice cream as we did for Matthew's birthday. Bill hasn't said if he wanted a get-together or just family."
"Yeses, Iss wills. Thankas youse Miester Kens," relied Momma Maria.
After Mr. Chris arrived and had gotten his first cup of hot coffee, Mr. Ken briefed him about the previous evening's meeting in the Study. The owner of The Cove gave his Estate Manager a condensed version of what was said, Bill's bringing about 40 signed eyewitness accounts, and how the CCTV videos showed the group gathering well before the altercation as if it was pre-planned.
Mr. Wayne came to work later than he usually would, only because he was there until late the night before. He and Chris sat and talked about the meeting in the Study the night before. That way Mr. Chris had a more rounded idea of the events as they occurred.
At the high school, Billy was met by his friends. They asked him if he was ready for his hearing with the school board. All Billy would tell them was he met with his lawyer last night and they have worked out a defense. Brett and Lonnie were happy for their friend. Kaden said he was glad he was fighting the principal, but he wasn't any more supportive than that.
More classmates brought Billy their handwritten statements about what they saw at the fight. Billy thanked them for all their help. One of the students asked how he was going to defend himself at the School Board Meeting. All Billy would tell them was, he had a lawyer and they've talked strategy.
Another student asked if they could attend the meeting. Billy told them all of his 'brothers' would be there, so he felt they should be allowed, as well. Billy added it was a public forum and they should be allowed in as long as there were enough seats. The students stayed and talked with Billy until the first bell rang.
As Chris and Wayne talked about last night, Mr. Ken called Jules Diamond. When the man came to the phone, the owner of The Cove gave the security man four names: William Shappell, Raleigh Mitchell, Cliff Crown, and Melvin Dennis. Mr. Ken told Jules about their meeting in the Study last night and the new videos.
Jules Diamond asked what the videos contained and all Mr. Ken could tell him was that the three bullies that attacked Bill came to him to try to convince him to drop his appeal. Ken Thomas then told Jules how the CCTV videos showed the bullies and their followers forming up well before the confrontation, which told him this was premeditated. Mr. Ken asked Jules to see if those names show up anywhere with any of the School Board members or their families.
When Billy went to lunch that Tuesday, Lonnie met him at the beginning of the lunch line along with two of his friends.
"Bill, I want you to meet Gabriel, or Gabe and Jamie, just Jamie," chuckled Lonnie. "They asked me about my visit to your home and they wanted to know more, so I invited them to ask you themselves."
"I don't know how much I can tell them. I've only lived there since the 25th of March. That's what ... three weeks?" replied Billy. "But let's get in line and talk after we get our food."
By then Brett and Kaden arrived and they joined the other four in line. After they took what lunch foods they wanted and went through the checkout line they found an empty table they could all sit at and talk.
"So, what's it like living in the lap of luxury?" asked Jamie.
"I wouldn't know. I've only lived at The Cove for three weeks and I've been busy ever since I arrived," answered Billy.
"Yea, right! I bet you have all those servants taking care of your every need. I bet they even cut up your food for you," laughed Gabe.
"So, how many servants do you think we have Gabe?" asked Billy.
"Hmmm, let me see. I'll bet with the size of the house there are probably five or six," replied Gabe.
"What about you Jamie? How many servants do you think we have?" asked Billy.
"I really don't know. What I do know is ... you have a slew of armed guards there. But, I'm not sure if they're to protect you from people getting in or ... or are they there to protect the public from you getting out," laughed Jamie, who was joined in by the other four teens.
"Ha, ha. The guards are there to keep people from kidnapping my 'brothers'. Last October ... while they were out Trick-or-Treating, they, and five of their friends, were almost taken away. There had been other incidents when Collin lived there and Mr. Ken has decided to protect his 'sons' from further harm.
"And, as for the number of servants we have ... it's Zero! None! Nada! All we have is Momma Maria, who cooks all of our meals and keeps the pantry stocked, Mr. Chris, the Estate Manager, and Mr. Wayne who is the Estate Master.
"A cleaning crew comes in once a week and cleans the house, does the laundry, and makes our beds. But we have to strip our beds before we go to school and put our dirty clothes in the clothes hampers. So, to answer your question about how many servants The Cove has ... the answer is none," laughed Billy.
"Whoa," spoke up Gabe, "You just mentioned three names of people who work there."
"Yes, they work there, but they are not servants. They each have a specific job to do and that does not include them being our personal servants. You should come over sometime and see for yourself," replied Billy.
"Ahh, Bill ... can we, you know, come over?" asked Jamie.
"Well, I have to ask my foster dad first," started Billy. "And then, I have to ask you a few questions before you can come over. Brett, Kaden and Lonnie have all gone through the process and they've been there. You just have to deal with the questions and how they sound to you, when I ask you them."
"How bad can they be?" asked Gabe.
"Well, first, I need your full name and home phone number, not your cell number. Mr. Ken wants that so if you are invited over, he has a contact number for your parents. It's me who'll want your cell number, so I can text you if I need to contact you directly," explained Billy.
"Once I have those, I'll talk to Mr. Ken tonight to see if you can come over this coming weekend. When you come over you need to bring your skateboard, swimsuit, and a towel," added Billy.
"And you need to get in line with the other kids if you want to ride the ramps," sarcastically offered Kaden.
"Give it a break, Kaden," spoke up Brett. "It is what it is. By the first of June, there should be a brand-new skate park we can use, so your bitching now is going on deaf ears!"
"Skate Park?" simultaneously asked Jamie and Gabe.
"Yea, you should see what Mr. Ken is building for all his boys and their friends. It has got to be at least half an acre if not more," said Lonnie,
"Yea, and he is building a Pavilion so the boys can burn burgers and dogs like they do now out on the back Patio," added Brett.
"I have just got to see this place on the inside of those big walls," said Jamie.
"Yea, I agree. I don't care what kind of questions you need to ask me. I'll bet they aren't all that hard," laughed Gabe.
"You two are honor-bound Boy Scouts, so I bet you won't have any problems with the questions," said Lonnie with a smile.
The teens turned in their lunch trays and headed outside. Billy quickly got Gabe's and Jamie's last names and home and cell phone numbers and he put them into his cell phone. He gave his two new friends his cell phone number and The Cove's main phone number that rang at Mr. Ken's desk.
By the time the boys talked some more about The Cove and why the two new friends needed to bring their skateboards and swimsuits, the after-lunch bell rang and all six teens headed into the school for their afternoon classes.
That afternoon at The Cove, Mr. Ken talked to Chris and Wayne about what he'd planned for the next few weeks. The three discussed the Grand Opening of the hotel in two weeks, the finishing of the Cove Skate Park, and the Memorial Day Grand Opening Picnic. Mr. Ken added his plan to take all six boys to visit his amusement parks right after school got out, Bill's 3-day trip with him, and the 4th of July Picnic that will happen soon after their return
All of those issues were major planning events not counting Bill's hearing coming that Thursday. The three men discussed each and every one of the issues at length. When they were finished, Mr. Ken gave his two key men specific tasks to perform to ensure the projects were successful when the time came.
When the younger Cover boys came home from school, Matthew told Momma Maria he was going to wait to have his snack with Billy when he came home. The youngest Cover then went up to his room to begin his homework.
Kevin said he wanted to see what waiting to have his snack was like, and he was going to start his homework and wait until Billy came home, too. The older twin then headed up to his room.
That left Robert, Charles, and Kyle to enjoy their snack before stopping at The Study to visit and talk to their 'dad' before going upstairs to start on their homework.
Billy always returned home about an hour after his 'brothers' did. Momma Maria reminded him Matthew was waiting for him and this time so was Kevin. That put a smile on the teenager's face who went directly up to the bedrooms and asked Matthew and Kevin to join him in the Kitchen Nook for their snack.
"I thought you'd never get here," moaned Kevin. "But I am sure glad you are here now!"
The three Covers sat down and Momma Maria brought over their afterschool snack. She then asked the boys what they wanted to drink. Kevin asked for chocolate milk, Billy asked for plain white milk and Matthew asked for vanilla milk to go along with his snack.
And just like yesterday, the boys joked and laughed and had a great time while eating their snack. Matthew really liked waiting for his snack, but he especially loved how he and Billy felt more like real 'brothers' than just foster boys. Even Kevin noticed how much fun they were having as compared to when the five of them just sat around the table and ate their snack. He decided he'd be there tomorrow, as well.
When the three Cover lads finished their snacks, they each gave Momma a big hug and then went to the Study to talk to their 'dad'.
"Hi, 'dad'," said Matthew, as he and his two 'brothers' entered the Study.
"Well, so I take it Kevin joined you two today," offered 'dad' Ken.
"Yea, I wanted to see what it was all about, so I decided to join them. And, boy I sure am glad I did. It was fun talking and laughing and joking between us. It was never that much fun when the five of us sat around the table and ate our Momma snack when we got home from school," spoke up Kevin.
"Ahh, Mr. Ken ... more students gave me their written accounts of the fight. I guess we can add them to the ones I gave Mr. Russell last night," said Billy.
"Oh, and I met two new friends. Actually, they're Lonnie's friends who asked him questions he couldn't answer about The Cove, so he brought them to meet me at launch time. Well, I'd like to invite them over this weekend if that is OK with you. I have their full names and home phone numbers for you," finished Billy.
"OK, let me have their names and phone numbers. I won't be able to let you know until tomorrow night at the earliest. In the meantime, make sure you ask them the questions we talked about," replied Mr. Ken.
"Are those questions about them using drugs?" asked Matthew.
'Dad' Ken and Billy smiled at the question. Mr. Ken said that from now on any new friend of the boys would have to answer some questions about using illegal drugs or abusing prescribed medications.
The man explained that with the proliferation of drugs in society he couldn't afford to have a druggie there at The Cove. He added that people could say they don't, but still do and they wouldn't know. The man added that if they bring them onto the estate they will be arrested.
Hearing that surprised the two young Cover boys. They never considered any of their friends would bring drugs onto the estate and they told their 'dad' that. 'Dad' Ken told them that as time goes on and they get older, like Robert and Charles, you will meet more and more kids in school and they may be the ones who use and abuse drugs.
It was then the other three Covers came to the Study. They asked what they were talking about. Kevin told them how much fun he had eating his snack with Billy and Matthew. Billy told them about getting more written statements about the fight. Matthew finished by telling his 'brothers' they were just talking about kids who use illegal drugs.
It was then Momma Maria came to the Study to tell them that dinner would be ready in a few minutes. 'Dad' Ken told the boys to go and wash up and for everyone to meet in the Kitchen Nook in a few minutes.
Once the boys left the Study, Mr. Wayne and Mr. Ken talked. Wayne asked his boss if he was going to talk to the boys about what they and Mr. Chris discussed that afternoon. Mr. Ken said there was no reason not to let the boys know what is being planned. He added that he already told the boys they were going to visit the amusement parks right after school let out. The two adults then went to wash their hands and then headed to the Kitchen Nook.
When dinner was over and the Covers assembled in the Study, 'dad' Ken told the boys about what was being planned for them and The Cove. He reminded them that soon after school lets out for the summer they were going to visit the four amusement parks. He added they needed to remind their friends that they would be gone for at least ten days.
'Dad' Ken told the boys that come the first of May he would celebrate the Grand Opening of the Lakeside Hotel. He told them it was a Saturday and he wanted his 'boys' to all be there and to tell their friends that the day would be a family day for them.
Mr. Ken then told the boys he planned to have a Grand Opening of the Cove Skate Park over the Memorial Day weekend and he was going to invite all their friends' families. Continuing, 'dad' Ken told the boys there would be a 4th of July Picnic, as always, and he was thinking of having the Labor Day Picnic again as last year was so successful.
Then, Mr. Ken reminded them, his office building was supposed to be finished around the middle of August. He added that his Penthouse should be done then too and they might have to have a 'sleepover' to try it out. The boys got excited over, hearing that.
'Dad' Ken then told them it might be a bit crowded as it only had four bedrooms. Kyle said he didn't care as he saw the plans and he wanted to try out the wading pool at the top of the building. The other boys said it wouldn't be any different from when they had forty friends spend the night there at The Cove.
The Covers talked about all of the issue's 'dad' brought up until it was time for them to go up to their rooms and relax some before getting to bed. Mr. Ken told them he'd be up in about fifteen minutes and then the boys hugged their 'dad' as they filed out of the Study to head upstairs to their bedrooms.
All of the Covers slept very well that night.
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