The students were excited about the trip to Kona. None were more excited than Devin. It was Monday, only five more days until Saturday’s boat ride.
“Billy, don’t you think it would be nice if Mr. Jones came with us on Saturday?” Devin asked a boy in his PE class. “He is such cool teacher. I think it would be fun to hang out with him outside of PIGC don’t you?”
“I guess,” Billy answered with little enthusiasm.
“Come on. Let’s go ask him.”
“Okay, I guess.”
“You do the talking okay. I think he really likes you.”
Scott was walking towards the gym exit. Billy called his name and both boys ran to him.
“What is it, boys?”
“We were wondering if you would come on the trip to Kona with us this Saturday Mr. Jones,” Billy asked.
“Hum. I haven’t been on that school trip in a long time. So both of you are going?”
“Yes, sir.” Billy looked at Devin and smiled. When Billy turned back to Scott, Devin mouthed the words “PLEASE.”
“Let me think about it. I’ll let you know Wednesday.”
Devin’s smile dropped until he saw Scott wink at him as he turned to continue toward the exit.
“This is going to be awesome Devin. We actually get to go to Kaloko-Hanokohau National Historic Park.,” Chris exclaimed. “I like going to the town but I’ve never been to the park. The school only takes us there every three years or so.”
“So we’re not going to Kailua?” Devin asked with concern. “Why not? The trip’s tomorrow and they just change it like that?”
“Who knows. Don’t get me wrong. I love that town but we always go there. It will be really sweet going to the park. I heard that Mr. Gaydos is coming too.” Devin groaned. “What’s wrong? I thought you liked Mr. Gaydos.”
“I do. It’s just…I wanted to visit this souvenirs shop. It’s has a lot of really nice things.”
“Come on dude. Seriously? There’ll be souvenir shops at the park too.”
“I can’t wait for tomorrow! I hope we get to go snorkeling. I heard it’s a great place to go kayaking too.”
“But I don’t swim very well.”
“You’ll be fine. The water is supposed to be shallow. I heard it’s really hot so you will want to get into the water. Besides, isn’t Mr. Jones coming? He won’t let anyone drown. There’s hiking also if you really don’t want to get in the water.”
“I wonder if we can choose our activity or is it all planned out.”
“Guess we’ll find out tomorrow. I’m wearing my swimming trunks just in case.”
It was a beautiful Saturday morning. It seemed that every student was going on the trip to the park. Several of the teachers were going as well as some adults who were not part of PIGC’s staff.
“Are you excited to go to the historical park Devin?” Trent asked. It seemed clear that he planned to remain at Devin’s side and keep him away from Mr. Jones.
“Actually sir, I wanted to go to Kailua and pick up some postcards to send home. I know my mom and friends would get a kick out of them. I wanted to buy some souvenirs for my mom too. I will be leaving before the next trip and I won’t have a chance to go again.” Devin sighed deeply.
“Hum.” Trent wanted to keep the boy happy. The change in the trip’s location was his idea. He needed a place he could keep his eye on the boy. The kids always separated once they got into Kailua. Trent feared the boy’s father would find a way to contact him there. He would be glad when Devin was safely tucked away with no chance of anyone finding him. “Perhaps we can arraign a special trip to the town for you before you leave. Would you like that Devin?”
“Really? Thanks, Mr. Gaydos.”
“You played that well son,” said Kevin in Devin’s head. Devin smiled as Trent looked down at him. “Now try to stick to the plan. Your Aunt Anastasia and your grandmother will be at the park. They will be on one of the hiking trails. I will let you know which one when your group gets to the park. Trent will no doubt try to stay by your side but you must get away from him. There are a lot of extra people on the boats. Try to keep away from them too. I’ve let your grandfather know to stay close to you in case he needs to step in.”
“Are you sure this is really necessary dad? Mr. Gaydos promised I could come back here if I don’t like the new campus.”
“They are not taking you to another campus, Devin!”
“But Mr. Gaydos shook my hand and promised me!”
“Please, believe me, son, Trent is a liar and a very good one.” Devin looked up at Mr. Gaydos and saw him glaring at Mr. Jones.
“Excuse me, Mr. Gaydos. I want to talk to my friend over there.” Devin pointed to one of the students who was talking to Mr. Jones.
“Why don’t I come with you?” Trent suggested.
“I get the feeling you’re following me, Mr. Gaydos.”
Trent laughed. “Oh no Devin, don’t be silly. I just like spending time with you that’s all. You go right ahead.”
Devin walked up to the girl and Mr. Jones and stood between them facing Trent.
“Hi, Mr. Jones. Hi Candy.”
“Hey there Devin,” Mr. Jones exclaimed in his booming voice. Candy waved. “Candy just told me she is going to try kayaking. Are you planning on that too or maybe some snorkeling?”
“Nah. I’m not too good in the water. I think I’ll do some hiking.”
“That’s interesting. I just told Candy I was going to hit the trails.”
“Can I come with you, Mr. Jones?” Both of them were speaking loud enough for Trent to hear.
“I would be honored to have you accompany me, Devin.”
Trent rushed over and tried not to look concerned. “Did I hear you two say you were going hiking?” he asked as casually as he could. “That sounds like a great idea. Mind if I tag along?”
“Aw.” Candy sighed and said to Devin, “I was hoping you were kayaking. Chris said he thought that’s what you were going do.”
“I didn’t wear my trunks and I really wanted to see the historical trails. I read a lot about them.”
“Maybe we can get a small group and hike together,” stated Mr. Jones. “Devin, why don’t you ask around on this boat and see if we can get a hiking party together?”
“Okay,” Devin replied enthusiastically. So far everything was going as planned.
The children divided themselves into groups based on what activity they were doing. At least two adults accompanied each group. Trent, Mr. Jones and a man and woman Devin had never seen before were part of the hiking group. Only seven other children joined their group making a total of twelve people. The woman turned out to be the tour guide.
Everyone had one large bottle of water, a bottle of orange Gatorade, a compass and a whistle in case anyone got separated. Everyone was also given a hat and light backpack with PIGC embroidered on them and a small cloth pouch which contained a mini first aid kit.
Devin put the hat on his head. Everything else he put in the backpack.
“We are getting ready to leave dad,” Devin said nervously in his head. “Do you know where I’m supposed to ditch Mr. Gaydos yet?”
“Here we go, Devin,” Trent said cheerily. He walked over to Devin and guided him towards the path with his hand on his shoulder. Devin smiled up at him.
“Are you there dad?” Devin received no answer. He could tell something was wrong. He couldn’t feel his father at all. “Dad! Where are you?” It was of no use. His father wasn’t there.
Devin shot a panicked look at Mr. Jones. Scott came over to him.
“Are you alright Devin? You look a little flustered. It’s really hot out here. Let me get your water out your pack. You need to keep hydrated.” As Scott pulled the water from Devin’s pack Devin whispered that he couldn’t hear his father. “Drink up little man.” Devin took a few sips from the water bottle and handed it back to Scott. “Feel better?” Scott pulled out a whistle. “You should wear this as a precaution.” He put it around Devin’s neck and tucked it under his shirt. “If you get separated blow on the whistle and I’ll make sure to find you okay?”
“Yes. Thank you, sir.”
“Don’t worry about the heat. You have plenty of liquids to get you through to the end. And our guide is excellent. She’ll make sure we get to the right trails. So there is nothing to worry about right?” He placed the water back in Devin’s pack and walked ahead with some other students.
Devin smiled. Mr. Jones’ emphasis on “right trails” did not go over his head. His father must have told him in advance where to break off from the group.
“Dad?” Still, his father did not answer.
Devin felt empty and confused. Why would his father leave him now when he needed him the most?
“Dad?” he tried again.
“I’m here Devin.”
“Where have you been?! Why did you leave me? Why didn’t you answer?”
“Calm down Devin. I had to talk to Anastasia. I can’t talk to both of you at the same time.”
“Well, you could have warned me. I thought something happened to you.”
“I’m sorry son. That was thoughtless of me.”
“Yeah, like you leaving me and mom like you did.”
Kevin was silent but Devin could sense his hurt.
“Dad?” Devin called out silently to his father. He didn’t mean to hurt him but the thoughts just blurted out.
“I’m here, son.” Devin could feel the sadness in his head. He was mad at himself for bringing it up. “Devin, I never wanted to leave you and your mother. When we have you safely away I’ll explain everything to you. You and your mother deserve that.”
“You don’t have to.”
“Yes I do and I will but for now let’s just get you out of there.”
Trent tried to keep his eyes on Devin’s face. He could tell something was distracting the boy. Whenever the boy caught him staring he would smile up at him. Trent would feel a lump in his throat as the face reminded him of Kevin.
The tour guide announced that they would be taking a water break just up ahead. A shelter had been set up for them. She encouraged everyone to drink plenty of liquids.
The shelter turned out to be a large tent with PIGC embroidered on the sides. There were chairs and porta potties available.
“Your aunt is behind those trees waiting for you. You need to go into the furthest porta potty. If Trent tries to accompany you make sure you wait until he goes into one then leave as quickly as you can. I will let you know if you are being followed.”
“What if he sees me.”
“Don’t worry. I’ll know where he is and guide you to safety.”
Scott came over to where Devin sat in a folding chair. Trent stood over him like a bodyguard.
“Come on Devin, drink up,” Scott said encouragingly. “Why don’t you try some Gatorade.” He pulled the boy to his feet, unzipped Devin’s backpack and pulled out the bottle.
“Thanks, Mr. Jones.” Devin reached for the bottle and took a few sips.
“You need to drink more than that!”
“I know but I really need to use it.”
“The porta potties are right over there.” Scott pointed in their direction.
“Yeah, I know. It’s just the thought of using one. It’s kind of gross.”
“They’re not that bad really. Come on. I’ll walk over with you.”
“Oh Mr. Jones, that is not necessary,” Trent quickly spoke up. “I was planning on going over there. Devin can come with me.”
Scott took Devin’s bottle and returned it to his backpack.
“There you go, Devin. Just remember to drink some more before we start again. I think we’ll be leaving soon.”
“Okay, Mr. Jones.” Devin’s smile beamed at him as Trent put his large hand on the boy’s shoulder and guided him towards his escape.