It was pleasant sitting around the table eating. Glen and I went and brought Frankie up, he sat at the end of the table in his cushioned office chair. We chatted about the last time the father’s joined us and how much more pleasant it was this time. Barney was enjoying the time away from the Wharf. Andy’s dad made sure he sat beside Andy, ever once in a while I saw a hug between the two, John glowed with pride over Johnny.I got the impression that Johnny loved every bit of it.
There was only confusion when the boys called me Dad or Glen Pop, and their real dad was sitting next to them. “Dad, are we dropping the nets tonight?”
“No, we have several days of fishing, so we’ll drop them in the morning after breakfast.”
The boys played cards with their dads. I chatted with Barney about business and what he thought about becoming a hotel/pub. “Mary and I have talked about it. We didn’t think there would be enough business to be successful. We’d have to hire additional people, staff for housekeeping and expand the kitchen. I don’t think there’s enough business to warrant the expenditure.”
“Are all of the Captains staying there now?”
“All except Gus, he stays on his boat.”
“And you have been getting guests in, Andy and Travis’s parents.”
“There aren’t that many rooms, there are five on the second floor and four on the top floor of which Mary and I occupy two. Andy’s folks usually occupy one of the two on the top floor and the captains occupy four on the second floor. So there aren’t that many open rooms to rent on a short term basis.”
“Yes, theoretically you only have two rooms. That doesn’t seem a lot to add to your workload. You have Steve to help some, I think with Steve, you could fill the other two rooms.”
Barney started to laugh, “I think you’re right even without Steve, we could handle it. I just never looked at it like we did just now. We always said it’d be too much work and here we’re doing the actually arithmetic.”
“You’re going to need more equipment.”
“I don’t know how you clean your sheets and towels now, but you probably should have your own laundry.”
“We have been sending them out.”
“I’ll check your laundry bill and I’ll bet you would've saved money doing it yourself.”
“Dad, we’re going to bed.” Glen and I carried Frankie down to Cabin 3. “Frankie, the boys like to read so make sure Andy’s gets you a book. I’ll check on you later in case you have any pain. I need to clean and apply new dressing as well.”
He looked at me smiling, “Thanks Dad, Pop.”I leaned over and gave him a kiss on his forehead and Glen did the same thing.
“Where there tears in his eyes when we kissed him?”
“Yes, I can’t put my head around how and why these boys were treated. Certainly someone had shown them love or they would never known what they missed.”
That night in bed, “Glen, do you still love me?”
“That’s a foolish question, I married you today.”
“Knowing what you know now, would you do it again?”
“What’s bothering you? Something is on your mind, what is it?”
“Do you remember the conversation we had the other night about the size of our family and why did I have to take these kids into our life?”
“I remember the conversation but not as you just put it. My concern was that we’d lose each other resolving the problems these boys have. I know you’d do everything you could to help them. The fostering of the boys that came in a few nights ago is an example. I saw how your heart went out to those boys, mine did as well. The difference, when your heart goes out you feel you re the only one who is able to put theirs in the right place. I don’t want to give up my place in your heart for them.”
“Glen, you’ll never have to worry about that. I draw my strength from you. I know you’ll back me up, I also know your heart goes out to these boys as well.” I hoped that goodnight kiss gave him assurance that his place in my heart is secured.
I thought about what Glen said as I felt asleep. I couldn’t find that spot where I was relaxed, I kept turning trying to find it. Glen put his arm around me and pulled me into his chest. That was what I needed.
I had one of those weird dreams again. There was the cloud speaking to me. I couldn’t understand the words but I knew what they were saying. The cloud seemed to move closer to me and I felt loved and relaxed. Then a knock on the door woke me.
Scott came in carrying two cups of coffee. “You going to sleep all day. It’s ten and all of the nets are down. Get up, breakfast is ready.”I looked at Glen, we started to laugh.
“Thanks Scott we’ll be right up.” We went to the head, took a quick shower and then headed up to the galley. Everyone was up, even Frankie was in his chair.
The boys looked at us and smiled, an evil smile. “Behave, I had a restless night” They all broke out in laughter. “That didn’t happen. I’m going to tell Father Damian what you are thinking and then you’ll be in trouble.” They just laughed harder.
“Kev, just keep quiet you are digging us in deeper.”
Breakfast was pancakes. “Scott, these are good and a good change from eggs. I’m assuming you made them.”
“Nope, Travis and Steve whipped these up.”
“Well, boys, I guess you’ll be on breakfast duty this week.”
“Now we need to cover lunch and dinner duty. Any volunteers?”
Adam was on my lap as soon as he finished crawling under the table. They had him in the corner. He went to grab my bacon, when I stopped him. “Look at your hands, they are dirty.” I took him to the sink to wash his hands. This reminded me of Peter when he first sailed with us on the Scuffy.
Sitting back down, someone snitched my bacon. I looked at Glen, I just knew it was him, it was. He got up and got me more bacon. “What time did you drop the nets?”
“Okay we’ll pull the nets at three and at nine. Then we’ll drop them tomorrow morning like you did today. Who dropped the nets?”
“I did with Jonathan helping me and Joseph helping Jamie. Charles took care of the stern nets.”
“Who helped you Charles?”
“I took Robby and David with me.”
“Good, let’s see if we can give everyone a chance to drop the nets and help pulling them in.”
“Dad, I can make a chart.”
“Good idea Charles, You’ll find paper in the Captain’s cabin on the desk.”
The dad’s looked puzzled.
“The more work the boys do, the bigger their share in the catch, which means Kev pays them more.”
“It’s only fair. If a boy sails with us he’ll earn a minimum of fifty dollars for the trip. Everyone does something even if it’s carrying a pail of bait to Charles. As the boy accepts more responsibility and does more to contribute to the success of the business, he’s paid more to a maximum of a hundred fifty for the trip. That’s what the other Captains pay their help.”
“Do they pay taxes on that?”
“Yes, it’s income.”
“How do you get around child labor laws?”
Glen smiled, “The Peter Charles is a company that has investors. Each boy has a one percent interest in the company. Because of the type of business, we declare a dividend each week we operate.”
“So Johnny has a one percent ownership in this boat.”
“Yes, he didn’t tell you. The boys all know it except the boys who became our sons this week and the three musketeers who we are now foster parents.”
“So the boys who you are fostering own one percent as well.”
“They will as soon as I file the paperwork.”
“I think I should take this week-end fishing a little more serious.”
“Johnny has a small bank account, I’m not sure how much he has in it. The last time I looked he had a little less than a hundred dollars. I guess you have more?”
Johnny smiled, “Just a little more. It’s my college fund.”
“I made the mistake of telling Jamie I’d match what ever he saved. Now there is no way I can match his savings account and thankfully he has let me pass on that promise.”
“Except for Nicky, Jamie has been the second longest employee. Then comes Charles and Peter.”
“So Nicky was your first employee?”
“No, Nicky was my first investor.”
“And I’m the first mate”
“Do you get extra for that?”
“No, but I get to talk to the mermaids, blow the horn at four am and drive the boat." We laughed at his mermaid remark.
“Nicky, who were those people?”
“They are my friends. The one mermaid that had the blue shell in her hair is my girlfriend. The merman is the boyfriend of the other mermaid.”
“Nicky, you know there are no such thing as a mermaid or mermen.”
“Who said there are stranger things below the sea then on earth. A new world lives there.”
“I think you paraphrased that a little.”
“Dad, take the Loch Ness monster. There are people who’ll fightyou if you say there isn’t a monster there. You saw the mermaids and merman.”
I looked at their faces, Dad didn’t buy it, John wasn’t sure, Barney, I think he was buying it. Listening to the Captains all day I’m sure he buys some of their nonsense. Andy was just listening. I could hear his thoughts, ‘I’ll check with Andy later’.