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    Dodger
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The Cockney Canuck - 153. Chapter 153 A Wide Berth

Fifty-seven thousand dollars sounded like a lot of money to me, but that was the cost of Don’s new floating man-toy, and apparently, he got it cheap. The soon to be re-named ‘Elizabeth’s Legacy’, however, wasn’t quite the boat that he showed me in the glossy catalogue, but an earlier version of the same model. Don insisted that fifteen years was still relatively new for a sailboat, and on Monday morning, he took Daniel and me to the Cobourg Yacht Club to inspect his proud acquisition.

It was the first day of the spring break, and my brother and I were in an excitable mood—buoyed by a week off school, double-digit temperatures, and the prospect of owning our own boat. I had to admit, when Don decided to do something, he usually did it big, and this was a perfect example.

With no previous sailing experience, perhaps it would have been prudent to opt for something a little smaller, at least to begin with, but that wasn’t the way he rolled. His over-inflated ego would never allow him to have the smallest boat in the marina, and his recently increased bank balance meant he didn’t have to, although Jo suspected there were other reasons for his impetuous behaviour.

She described his actions as blatant bribery and warned me not to get too carried away like Nicola, for example, who was already planning to host her nineteenth birthday party on the boat, or Daniel, who wanted to invite his friends for a sleepover out on the lake. I had to admit, if my counsellor was right and this was just another cynical ploy to secure the loyalty of his easily-bought family, then it was working, and I was every bit as shallow as the rest of them.

It was difficult for me not to be excited. Sailing appealed to my love of water, and it seemed like a natural progression after spending so much of my childhood in or around swimming pools with my mom. I could imagine diving off the stern into Lake Ontario on a hot summer’s day or fighting thirty-foot waves while rounding the Cape of Good Hope.

The Cobourg Yacht Club was adjacent to the marina and situated on the opposite side of the harbour to the beach. When we arrived, the boats were still in dry dock from the winter, packed together in neat rows and supported above the ground by metal stands, leaving barely enough room to pass between them. It was an impressive collection. There was every type of vessel imaginable, from tiny one-person sailboats to expensive ocean-going yachts, and with less than a month to go before the start of the season, the club was a hive of activity.

We were met by the previous owner, who led us through the maze of hulls while explaining the basics. Don’s boat was a Canadian made, six-birth, thirty-two-foot sloop. It had an auxiliary engine, but it was mainly a sailboat used for day cruises and perfect for a family.

“A sloop means it has one mast and two sails,” said Daniel, who, unlike me, wasn’t a total novice. He had been sailing a few times with his friend, Doug, whose family owned a smaller boat at the same club.

From underneath, it looked enormous, but the interior was tiny and claustrophobic, not ideal for someone of Don’s size. He looked out of shape and was short of breath as he struggled to climb a ladder fixed to the stern, and he had difficulty manoeuvring his bulky frame within the small confines of the compact vessel. I laughed when the former owner suggested he might want to lose a little weight—a reaction guaranteed to get under his skin. Don hated people making fun of his waistline, and no one in the family dared mention it to his face. I was the exception and found the whole thing hilarious. It gave him another reason to hate me, and I knew I was annoying him that day, even before my brother pulled me aside to warn me.

“If you keep laughing at him, he’s gonna get pissed.”

Daniel still didn’t quite get it. That was precisely what made it so funny in the first place.

Pissing off Don was a favourite pastime of mine and a skill at which I was becoming increasingly adept. I had nothing against overweight people, but as far as I was concerned, this was an all-out war, and Don had shown himself to be an unscrupulous opponent. He would use whatever means he could to hurt me, so it would have been stupid not to make use of such an obvious weakness.

“What do you think, boys?” said Don as he stood proudly at the helm, looking most unlike a skipper. “Do you like it?”

“Isn’t it supposed to have sails?” I hated to have to point out the obvious, but I thought someone should mention it.

My brother laughed at me. “They don’t fit the masts until the boats are in the water, dummy. They have to use a crane to lift them into the harbour.” I shoved him in the back for being such a smartass, and he retaliated by throwing a punch at me. There was a brief scuffle and an exchange of fists before Don intervened and ordered us off the boat.

Daniel and I rarely fought, but when we did, he generally gave a good account of himself, which annoyed me. Our age difference wasn’t enough to provide me with a physical advantage, and I couldn’t push him around in the way I would have liked. I wasn’t a bully, but I didn’t see much point in having a younger brother who was my equal.

Our little spat continued behind Don’s back as we followed him to the office to meet the club secretary. She gave us a tour of the facilities, and I was unashamedly sucked in as she talked us through the pros and cons of owning a boat and the legal requirements of sailing it in open water. The club was keen to boost its membership and get more people involved in what they described as a family activity. They provided introductory courses for all age groups and professional instructors for every level and type of vessel.

Jo was right; of course, being captain of his own boat appealed to Don’s controlling personality, and his willingness to foot the bill secured the loyalty of his kids, but it still didn’t make sense. Don usually avoided physical work like the plague and preferred his home comforts to outdoor activities. This was quite a departure for him, but after completing the formalities and walking around the club, I began to see another attraction. There were a lot of expensive-looking yachts owned by some very wealthy people, and Don seemed to know them all.

He wasn’t just buying a boat; he was buying a status symbol and membership of an exclusive club of well-connected, rich, white, middle-aged men. I recognised a few of them from Don’s Saturday night dinner parties. They were prominent local figures whom Sue frequently referred to as the Cobourg mafia, and among them, the overly-friendly pastor from Don’s church and his leggy sidekick, the evil Mr Symmonds.

For a humble man of the cloth who claimed to live a simple life, the pastor’s thirty-eight-foot, six birth catamaran looked a tad ostentatious to me. I remembered him voicing concerns over the spiralling cost of repairs to the old church building and his failed attempt to get me involved in some weekend fundraising events. I felt guilty at the time for turning him down, but not anymore.

“Do you like it, Robbie?” The pastor stood next to me and put his arm around my shoulders. “God rewards those who work hard in his name.”

“He must pay good wages then.”

The pastor chuckled and patted my head. “Oh, no. It doesn’t belong to me. I’m just the one who has to look after it. It belongs to the church. We run a sailing school for local youths from less privileged backgrounds. It’s an opportunity for them to make friends and get involved in something that would otherwise be out of their reach. This is the cornerstone of our youth program. It’s hard work, but we want to send out a message that following God can be fun and rewarding.”

“I bet it can.” It sounded very noble, but I imagined there were a lot of perks, like having a luxury boat to play with in your spare time.

“Matthew and I take the kids out on the lake twice a week during the summer, and we have professional instructors. I’m afraid I’m not very hands-on when it comes to that kind of thing.” He could have fooled me. Whenever we talked, his hands seemed to be everywhere.

After our little agreement in the week, I felt obligated to at least be civil to the pastor—something I hadn’t always done in the past—and I made an effort at some polite conversation.

“How fast does it go?”

“With a good wind, we can get it up to about twelve knots, which is pretty fast. You and Daniel are welcome to join us one day if you want. It’ll give you a little head start on sailing.”

‘You must be joking.’

I glanced at a worried-looking Daniel, but it was Don who answered the pastor’s question for us. “That’s very kind of you, pastor. I’m sure they’ll take you up on that offer.”

I couldn’t think of anything worse than being stuck on a boat for the day with the pastor, his son, and a load of underprivileged church kids until I saw Mr Symmonds climbing down the ladder.

While Don talked excitedly to the pastor about his latest acquisition, Mr Symmonds quickly honed in on me. He looked different without his usual suit and tie, but his sawdust-covered work pants were too short for his long legs and finished well above his plain white deck shoes. There was nothing funny about this man, however, even when he looked ridiculous, and I braced myself for a difficult conversation.

“Well, well, if it isn’t my good friend, Robbie.” He grabbed my hand and gave it a firmer than necessary shake as his eyes flicked between Daniel and me. “And this young man must be your brother. I hear you’re joining the club.”

I nodded as he squeezed Daniel’s hand. “Don just bought a sailboat.”

“Good timing. Summer’s just around the corner. I expect you’ll be spending most of it out on the lake this year.”

“We don’t know how to sail yet,” said Daniel.

“You’ll pick it up soon enough; it’s not that difficult.”

That surprised me; I never had Symmonds down as the ocean-going type.

“Do you do a lot of sailing then, Mr Symmonds?”

“No, I don’t get much time. The Lord keeps me busy, as you know, Robbie. And how have you been lately? Staying out of trouble, I hope.”

“Yes.”

“Are you sure? The last time we talked, you sounded like you were in difficulty. I was worried about you.”

He was referring to the night I was at Nathan’s house when a strange man was watching me from a parked car. I still had a bone to pick with him over that night.

“I asked you to let Sue know I was okay, but you didn’t tell her.”

His smile disappeared instantly, and he stared into space, looking deep in thought. “Are you sure? I don’t remember that. If you did, then I must have forgotten.”

I could tell he was lying and sneered at him. “Yeah, right. You did it on purpose.”

For a so-called counsellor, he was easily annoyed, and he didn’t take too kindly to my accusation—narrowing his eyes at me and gritting his teeth as he spoke. “And why would I do that, Robbie?”

“To get me into trouble. I suppose. You tell me.”

“I told you, I must have forgotten. I hope you’re not calling me a liar?” His voice increased in volume as he spoke, and he made sure it was loud enough to interrupt the other conversation.

The result was predictable as Don turned to shout at me. “ROBBIE! I don’t know what you said to Mr Symmonds, but you had better apologise.”

“I didn’t say anything that wasn’t true.”

My brother tapped my arm with his elbow urging me to back down, but I stood firm, glaring at the tall man in front of me.

“It’s okay, Don,” said Mr Symmonds, and he raised his hand to indicate parental guidance wasn’t necessary. “It’s just a misunderstanding. I’m sure Robbie didn’t mean to insult me, did you?”

He stared at me poker-faced and waited for my reply as Don, the pastor, and Daniel watched on in silence.

“No,” I mumbled, but my expression told him it was a lie.

‘Fucking tosser.’

My climbdown avoided a confrontation I couldn’t win and brought another smarmy smile from Symmonds as Don—satisfied by his show of authority—continued his conversation with the pastor.

“You haven’t lost any of that anger, have you?” said Mr Symmonds. “There’s no need for you to hate me. I’m here to help you.”

“I don’t need your help.”

“Apparently, you’re going to be a father. I think you’re gonna need all the help you can get.” He ran his hand through his short dark curly hair and gloated at my misfortune. “Bringing a child into the world is a big responsibility, but in your case, it could be a blessing. Don’t waste this opportunity. It’s a gift from God.”

“What do you mean?”

“Having a child out of wedlock is a sin, but there’s plenty of time to rectify that. The most important thing is, you managed to work things out. I knew you would. That lifestyle would have destroyed you. You know that, don’t you?”

I knew what he was trying to say, and I was happy to let him believe it as long as he left me alone, but I needed to let him know there was no chance of me making an honest woman of Stephanie.

“We’re not getting married if that’s what you think. I’m not even her boyfriend. You don’t know what’s going on.”

“I know more than you think, Robbie. There are no secrets in this town. You should know that by now. Isn’t that right, Daniel?”

My brother looked surprised to find himself suddenly involved in the conversation. “Sorry.”

“I said there are no secrets in this town.”

“I guess not.”

“Make sure you remember that, Robbie. You don’t want to end up on the wrong side.” He reached out a long arm to touch me on the shoulder before dipping his head to walk under the starboard bow of the giant catamaran. “I have to get back to work. I’m replacing all the wood panelling. I’m a carpenter as well as a counsellor. I bet you didn’t know that.”

As he climbed the ladder up to the deck, I turned to Daniel. “Wasn’t Jesus a carpenter?”

He nodded. “He probably didn’t have a boat like this, though.”

“You haven’t been paying attention, Daniel. They only do this for the kids, and here’s one of them now.”

We were interrupted by the arrival of the pastor’s family. His son Matthew made a beeline for Daniel, who wanted to show him our boat, so I decided to tag along.

It was a couple of months since a winter storm forced the spotty kid to spend the night at our house, and his manners hadn’t improved. He kept his distance from me, using Daniel as a buffer and generally acted as if I wasn’t there. I didn’t care to be ignored, so I left them at the boat and walked to the marina. The jetties were empty, and the only ship in the harbour was the big red coast guard vessel that never seemed to move.

I sat on a bench and stared across the choppy waves. The water looked cold and uninviting, and for the first time that I could remember, I felt a little intimidated. It surprised me. I wasn’t usually scared of water, and I even had a lifesavers certificate to prove my competence. A couple of years ago, I could have swum that harbour a dozen times, but now I wasn’t even sure if I could make the other side, and I wondered if I still had it in me.

It was ironic. In London—a city with limited public pools and facilities—I used to swim every day. Now I lived in a beach town on the shores of one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, but other than a few undisciplined dips in Don’s tiny outdoor pool, I hardly ever swam, not even in school.

As a young kid, swimming was my passion and my only hobby. My mom used to boast to her friends that I could swim before I could walk, but I was fortunate. Not every kid had a former Olympic athlete as a teacher. She was my hero and my inspiration, and she had high expectations of me, but when she died, my love of swimming died too, and I wondered what she would think of me now.

Passing my lifesavers exam was a considerable achievement, and thanks to nurse Alice, collecting my certificate in front of the school was my proudest moment. I desperately wanted my mom to be there, but they told me she was too sick to leave the hospital, so I didn’t mention it, knowing how much it would hurt her. Alice was always thoughtful. When she found out I would be the only kid collecting an award without a parent present, she told me she would go instead, but I knew it wouldn’t be the same.

When Mr Jenkins called me to the stage during the morning assembly, the whole school applauded, but it still felt like the loneliest walk of my life. I struggled to put on a brave face as he handed me my certificate. Then he pointed towards the front row of seats and gave me a little shove in the back. Everyone seemed to know what was happening except me, and it was a few seconds before I recognised the frail lady in the wheelchair.

Nurse Alice arranged it without me knowing, and she was there with Tom’s parents as I jumped from the stage and collided with the music teacher. My antics put a smile on my mom’s face, and when she hugged me, even Mr Jenkins had to wipe away a tear.

My mom collected a lot of medals in her swimming career and received many accolades, but she insisted that was the proudest day of her life. Those words and her presence at the school meant the world to me, and somehow, despite the constant pain, she managed to look happy. It was a precious moment that I will never forget, but it was the last time she was able to leave the hospital, and two weeks later, she was dead.

“Are you okay?” The timid voice behind me belonged to Matthew, and I frantically tried to hide my tears. I still couldn’t think of that day without crying, and I wiped my face with my sleeve. I was sixteen and too old to cry, so I told him to fuck off. “You’re not very nice,” he said. “I was only asking if you were okay.”

“Why were you spying on me?”

“I wasn’t spying. Your family are looking for you.”

“I’ve only been gone a few minutes.” I looked menacingly at Matthew, and he took a step back as if I was going to hit him. “Are you scared of me or something?”

“No.”

“You act like it. It’s okay; I won’t touch you. I don’t even like you.”

“I know that,” he said, but he still looked uncomfortable as he walked beside me. “Why were you crying?”

“I wasn’t crying.”

“Yes, you were. I saw you. I’m only trying to help.”

“Not you as well. What is it with you lot; always trying to help people?”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

“Yes, because you don’t fucking mean it. I don’t need your bloody help or your dad’s, and definitely not Mr Symmonds.”

“Why do you have to swear so much?”

I stopped and scratched my head. “Why do you have to be so fucking polite?”

He didn’t answer my question, but he smiled at me, which I couldn’t remember him ever doing before. He looked nicer with a smile, but it vanished the moment we reached the perimeter of the yacht club, and he began looking around for signs of his family.

“I’m sorry, but I’m not allowed to talk to you. It’s the rules.”

I shook my head. “Whose rules? Does God make those rules?”

“No, and I don’t agree with them either.”

“Then why do you follow them?”

We stopped by Don’s boat, but there was no sign of Daniel.

“It’s easy for you to say,” said Matthew. “You don’t know what it’s like for me. I have to follow their rules. I don’t have a fucking choice.”

Hearing him swear was almost funny. It sounded totally at odds with his delicate voice, and I would have laughed if it wasn’t so serious. He was upset, leaning against the keel and kicking the dirt in frustration. Like the swearing, his body language was so untypical of him.

I was fascinated by this hidden rebellious streak and wanted to investigate, but he wouldn’t look at me when I stood in front of him and pulled a face. So, I repeated his words from earlier.

“I’m only trying to help.”

“I’m not the one who needs help. Symmonds doesn’t like you. I’d be careful if I were you. He’s not a very nice person.”

Matthew was full of surprises. I didn’t think he had it in him to talk badly of anyone other than me, especially someone from his church, but in this case, he was preaching to the converted.

“Thanks for the warning, but I already know what he’s like.”

“I thought so. You had to go to him for therapy, didn’t you?”

“He came to me, but yeah, it wasn’t a nice experience.”

“Is that why you were upset? It’s okay; you can talk to me; I had to see him too.”

That surprised me. Matthew didn’t seem like a kid who would need therapy, but this wasn’t about him, it was about me, and I wondered why he was suddenly so concerned.

“I don’t understand?”

“Did he hurt you?”

“Hurt me? No, of course not.”

“You can tell me; I won’t say anything. You’re not the only one; he’s hit me too. He does it to a lot of kids.”

Matthew looked nervously at me as I tried to process what he said.

“Symmonds hit you? Why?”

“Why do you think? Because he’s a bully. I shouldn’t have told you this. I thought you knew. You said you went to him.”

I was lost for words as I stared at the frightened kid. I knew Symmonds wasn’t a nice guy. He gave himself away when I first met him, and Jo had warned me since, but this was much worse than I expected.

“I only saw him once, and that wasn’t why I was upset back there.”

“You’re lucky. I had to go every week.”

“Does your dad know about this?”

“No, but he was the one who sent me to him. He knew what he was like.”

I was shocked. My opinion of Matthew had changed quite a bit, and I thought I knew what he was trying to say.

‘He sent you to see him?’

“Conversion therapy,” I mumbled. “Is that why he sent you to Symmonds? Are you gay?”

“No. It’s wrong to have thoughts like that for other boys.”

“You didn’t answer my question.”

Matthew was shaking like a leaf. I don’t think I had ever seen anyone so scared. I reached out to comfort him, but he pulled away and glared at me. “Don’t touch me. I shouldn’t be telling you this. You tricked me.”

“I didn’t trick you. But you should tell the police. I know someone who can help you if you want, she’ll make sure you’re safe.”

He shook his head and looked into my eyes. “No! That’s the worst thing you can do. He’ll find out. You can’t trust anyone. Please don’t say anything. If they find out, I told you ….”

“There you are. I’ve been looking all over for you.” My brother startled me, but he must have realised he had interrupted something and looked suspiciously at us. “Dad’s waiting in the car. We have to go.” He glanced at Matthew, who was clearly upset and wouldn’t look up. “What’s up with him?”

Matthew ignored my brother to look at me with pleading eyes until I gave him the assurance he was looking for.

“I won’t say anything to anyone. I promise.”

He gave me a slight nod before dropping his eyes and taking a deep breath. “Thank you.”

As Matthew scampered back to his family, Daniel was understandably confused. “Bye, Matthew. What was all that about?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

My brother scratched his head and started walking back to the parking lot. “He’s a strange kid. I don’t think he has it too good at home.”

“I don’t think so either.”

In the car, while Daniel talked excitedly with Don about the boat, I stared out the window, replaying my conversation with Matthew. I was shocked by what he told me, to the point where I felt physically ill. I wanted to tell Sue, but the look of terror on the boy’s face was enough for me to want to keep his secret. Even Jo would have been obligated to go straight to the police, and it was a risk I couldn’t take. I kept hearing Matthew’s frightened voice in my head telling me not to trust anyone. It seemed like Don wasn’t the only person with connections in the police service, and the Cobourg mafia was beginning to look a lot more sinister.

When we arrived home, I went to the back of the garden and sat in my favourite spot under the tree to think. It seemed almost unreal, like a bad dream. I punched the ground in frustration until my fists started to bleed, and every blow I landed was on Symmonds smarmy face.

*     *     *

That night, after lying awake for hours listening to my brother snoring, I went upstairs, made myself a hot drink and sat in the kitchen. My mind was in turmoil, torn between empathy for the boy I previously had little time for and an overwhelming desire to see his tormentor face justice.

I wanted to avoid a kneejerk reaction that would inadvertently put Matthew in peril, and so for the first time in ages, I was unable to turn to Jo. She had the power to destroy Symmonds and the authority to remove Matthew from his home and away from danger, but she couldn’t do it on my word alone. So I decided the only way I could guarantee the boy’s safety was to remain silent until I could gain his trust and persuade him to tell somebody. That meant talking to him alone, which wasn’t going to be easy.

He wasn’t allowed to socialise with kids outside of his church, and I was definitely out of bounds for reasons that seemed a lot clearer now than they were. I had no idea if Matthew was gay or not, but it explained his parent’s almost paranoid determination to keep him from talking to me. Maybe they were scared that I would somehow sow doubt in his mind and undo some of Mr Symmond’s brainwashing.

The pastor and his wife had Matthew on a short leash, and the only way I could get to him was either through his church or by going sailing with them. Both options carried the risk of rubbing shoulders with Mr Symmonds, who I already knew was out to get me even before Matthew’s warning. If the evil counsellor found out I was trying to get him busted, then there was no telling what lengths he would go to in order to silence me and I shuddered at the thought as I headed back to bed.

‘What you don’t know can’t hurt you,’ was one of my mom’s favourite sayings and it was true. I wanted to forget everything that Matthew told me and go back to worrying about my own insignificant problems like getting Stephanie up the spout. At least they weren’t life-threatening problems. But now I knew about Symmonds, it was almost impossible to think of anything else. Whether I liked it or not, by telling me his secret, Matthew had got me involved in something I couldn’t ignore.

I still didn’t particularly like the kid, but the question that hung over my head was clear. If anything bad happened to him, would I be able to live with myself, knowing I could have done something to stop it?

The answer, of course, was no. So, against my better judgement, I decided to take the pastor up on his offer and go sailing for the day.

If you enjoyed this chapter, please take the time to like, leave a comment below, follow the story, or recommend it to others.

In the next chapter, Nathan has his casts removed and Robbie is invited to Stephanie’s house.

Copyright © 2017 Dodger; All Rights Reserved.
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Story Discussion Topic

For discussion of themes and topics. The book can be found here: https://www.gayauthors.org/story/dodger/thecockneycanuck After 47 chapters and lots of drama I think it's time this story has a discussion topic where readers can interact with the author and each other. There are certainly plenty of situations, characters and emotions to bring up, and of course most of all Robbie the Cockney Canuck. Dodger has kindly given me permission to start this thread and has promised to be part of the di

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9 hours ago, Gary L said:

Cruel choice: read this and be late for work trapped in traffic or patiently wait until this evening and read at leisure?   I know what Robbie would choose but sadly I have to go for delayed gratification 😤 

It was worth waiting for.  Really powerful stuff.   I dread the boating trip or could Symmonds have a little slip…

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21 hours ago, AquariusGuy said:

Robbie needs to out Symmonds and his tactics. We knew Symmonds didn't tell Sue where he was but what's his motive? Are he and Don colluding? Man so many ways this could go.

 

Excellent chapter Dodger.

I think Robbie called it right when he accused Symmonds of trying to get him into trouble. Symmonds was annoyed at the time because Robbie refused his help. We know that Don and Symmonds are like-minded in many ways although I'm not sure if Don would condone the counsellor's tactics.

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21 hours ago, weinerdog said:

I'm trying to figure what Robbie's plan is going to be and what he thinks he can do without spilling Matthew's  secret.The only thing I can think of is to maybe get the Pastor or Symmods to talk about it while Robbie records it on his phone but I'm sure the author has a better idea.Robbie is a good guy

I'm not sure if Robbie has a plan at the moment, other than to talk to Matthew and try to persuade him to tell someone like Jo. I think he will try to avoid the pastor and Symmonds as much as he can.  

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21 hours ago, Wesley8890 said:

That frelling bastard! Every single one of those symmonds make me sick!

Symmonds is definitely not a nice guy. 

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@Dodger   Sorry  to poke,  so are we at March 2011?  And Robbie's 17?  I know it says somewhere back in the chapters,  but I figure you have a handle.

Btw,  love the setting.  I grew up in Ottawa,  and this is the first long series I've read set in Canada,  and I've really bonded with how you're handling Cobourg and Ontario. 

 

 I'm winding up to maybe figure out who to lobby for "Canada"  and "Ontario Gothic"  tags here. 

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I don't really know the first thing about boats. Other than they are supposed to float, and if they don't, you're in a whole lot of...water ;).

So after the visit to the yacht club, does anyone else feel just that in itself is pretentious or is it just me? We really find that Don's only interest is to be more part of the Cobourg mafia :(. I'm surprised me has been an active member all these years without at least a dingy to his name. Also find it a bit disturbing that two of Robbie's biggest supporters in Nicola and Daniel are already excited to make plans after all the shyte Don has hurled Robbie's way :(. I'm just glad that it seems like Sue isn't entertaining this waste of money and bribery to the kids. Well I hope she is.

If I were Robbie, I would cancel the meeting with the pastor without, but really with, cause :unsure:. The fact, but I guess we don't have actual proof of conversion therapy, that the pastor would up his son for reeducation (I think the pastor and Mr. Symmonds would be happy with that expression) should be enough to shut them both down. I think Robbie should have a burning upon urination condition suddenly pop up the day he is to get on the boat with them. Totally fake, but would they want Robbie around the good wholesome kids with that, or would Sue even let him out of the house until tests came back negative. 

As far as Matthew goes, that is a hard decision. The adult in me says tell Jo, whatever happens would be better for Matthew in the end. But on the other hand, if a friend came to me about their deepest darkest secret and told me not to tell as a teenager, I wouldn't tell. Hell, I'm still keeping a couple of those secrets  :yes: 

Once again Dodger, thanks for taking us on Robbie's journey. Hopefully the road ahead isn't as rocky as I'm thinking it is going to be.

Regarding the illegal conversion therapy, it was only banned in Ontario around June 4th, 2015 and in all of Canada not until around June 22, 2021. So like so many things that are unethical in our past, it wasn't illegal at the time of this story :(.

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On 9/13/2021 at 11:54 PM, Dewilmnative said:

Jo needs to be told about this then go to OPP to have them investigate not only Symmonds, but the church as well. If they are sending children to Conversation Therapy then they are in Violation of the Canadian Human Right Law. 😡

Conversion therapy was still legal at the time but not Symmonds' version.

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On 9/14/2021 at 12:30 AM, chris191070 said:

Whatever Robbie does, he can't spill Mathew's secret. But he needs to bring Symonds down.

Don seems happy with his new boat.

I think Robbie knows how important it is for him to keep this secret until he can talk to Matthew again.

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11 hours ago, Mattyboy said:

@Dodger   Sorry  to poke,  so are we at March 2011?  And Robbie's 17?  I know it says somewhere back in the chapters,  but I figure you have a handle.

Btw,  love the setting.  I grew up in Ottawa,  and this is the first long series I've read set in Canada,  and I've really bonded with how you're handling Cobourg and Ontario. 

 

 I'm winding up to maybe figure out who to lobby for "Canada"  and "Ontario Gothic"  tags here. 

Yes, March 2011, but Robbie is still 16 until September.

Cobourg is a town I visit quite often. It's a very friendly and vibrant community especially in the summer. The beach and harbour provided the perfect setting for this story and I know the places well enough to be able to write about them fairly accurately from memory, which helps. The school, of course, is fictitious, as are the various road names where the characters live and Don's church.

In the story, Nathan's family come from Ottawa.  

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23 hours ago, Gary L said:

It was worth waiting for.  Really powerful stuff.   I dread the boating trip or could Symmonds have a little slip…

Glad you weren’t late for work @Gary Land I'm pleased you enjoyed the chapter.

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12 hours ago, wildone said:

I don't really know the first thing about boats. Other than they are supposed to float, and if they don't, you're in a whole lot of...water ;).

So after the visit to the yacht club, does anyone else feel just that in itself is pretentious or is it just me? We really find that Don's only interest is to be more part of the Cobourg mafia :(. I'm surprised me has been an active member all these years without at least a dingy to his name. Also find it a bit disturbing that two of Robbie's biggest supporters in Nicola and Daniel are already excited to make plans after all the shyte Don has hurled Robbie's way :(. I'm just glad that it seems like Sue isn't entertaining this waste of money and bribery to the kids. Well I hope she is.

If I were Robbie, I would cancel the meeting with the pastor without, but really with, cause :unsure:. The fact, but I guess we don't have actual proof of conversion therapy, that the pastor would up his son for reeducation (I think the pastor and Mr. Symmonds would be happy with that expression) should be enough to shut them both down. I think Robbie should have a burning upon urination condition suddenly pop up the day he is to get on the boat with them. Totally fake, but would they want Robbie around the good wholesome kids with that, or would Sue even let him out of the house until tests came back negative. 

As far as Matthew goes, that is a hard decision. The adult in me says tell Jo, whatever happens would be better for Matthew in the end. But on the other hand, if a friend came to me about their deepest darkest secret and told me not to tell as a teenager, I wouldn't tell. Hell, I'm still keeping a couple of those secrets  :yes: 

Once again Dodger, thanks for taking us on Robbie's journey. Hopefully the road ahead isn't as rocky as I'm thinking it is going to be.

Regarding the illegal conversion therapy, it was only banned in Ontario around June 4th, 2015 and in all of Canada not until around June 22, 2021. So like so many things that are unethical in our past, it wasn't illegal at the time of this story :(.

The Cobourg Yacht Club is a little pretentious. There's more to it than simply sailing which doesn't really interest Don as much as having a boat in the harbour. He wouldn't be happy with a dingy.

As for the kids, well, I imagine most teenagers would be lured by the prospect of having their own sailboat, especially in a place like Cobourg. Don even managed to bribe Robbie, who was equally excited and admits to being just as shallow as Nicola and Daniel.

Matthew predicament shows another side of him though and perhaps a growing maturity. So far, he's probably done the right thing by thinking it through and not telling anyone else. He's a good guy at heart and will want to help the kid without putting him in danger, but at the moment he hasn't got a plan.

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Don is a tool, plain and simple. Symmonds is an abuser and needs to be shown the gray bar hotel or worse 😡!  Robbie needs a trusted adult to help him protect his interests. Jo would be a good choice. After a complete audit of his assets and bank holdings protections could be firmed up. After that, Robbie should hunker down and look after Robbie with the goal of retaking his life on his 18th birthday. By then he should have enough bank to continue his education and establish his future either in Cobourg or London or wherever....  Don should be eliminated from Robbies life, either literally or by Robbie moving on. He can then stay close to those he wishes to without Dons permission (except Daniel for another year)! Lets hope Robbie gets a winning hand!!!

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On 9/13/2021 at 11:21 PM, AquariusGuy said:

Robbie needs to out Symmonds and his tactics. We knew Symmonds didn't tell Sue where he was but what's his motive? Are he and Don colluding? Man so many ways this could go.

 

Excellent chapter Dodger.

I think Don and Symmonds are having a sex affair.

Edited by James B.
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I'm really worried about Robbie going out on any boats concerning Don, Symmonds or the church. Another thing, where did Don get money for the Boat? Does Robbie have any inheritance left?

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1 hour ago, James B. said:

I'm really worried about Robbie going out on any boats concerning Don, Symmonds or the church. Another thing, where did Don get money for the Boat? Does Robbie have any inheritance left?

This  ^^^^^^  is why Robbie needs an advocate with the authority to audit and protect his assets!!!!

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12 minutes ago, wenmale64 said:

This  ^^^^^^  is why Robbie needs an advocate with the authority to audit and protect his assets!!!!

Exactly what I thought from when he first moved there. I don't trust Don at all.

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On 9/15/2021 at 6:58 PM, wenmale64 said:

Don is a tool, plain and simple. Symmonds is an abuser and needs to be shown the gray bar hotel or worse 😡!  Robbie needs a trusted adult to help him protect his interests. Jo would be a good choice. After a complete audit of his assets and bank holdings protections could be firmed up. After that, Robbie should hunker down and look after Robbie with the goal of retaking his life on his 18th birthday. By then he should have enough bank to continue his education and establish his future either in Cobourg or London or wherever....  Don should be eliminated from Robbies life, either literally or by Robbie moving on. He can then stay close to those he wishes to without Dons permission (except Daniel for another year)! Lets hope Robbie gets a winning hand!!!

If Robbie looks hard enough he will realize that he already has a winning hand. It's just a matter of knowing when to play it! 

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