Chapter 17

Kate called from the kitchen, "Dinner's on!"

Frank and Otis jumped up. Otis patted his belly, “I'll tell you what, fellas. This is an exciting game, but it can't
compete with Kate's cooking. First one to the table gets the drumstick." He raced off toward the kitchen. Frank
winked at Ben and said, “Don’t worry. Kate always has four drumsticks.”

The Jenkins home had a large eat-in kitchen. They were a scoop-it-off-the-stove family. Everybody got in line and
helped themselves. Guests usually got preferential treatment in the front of the line, but Otis designated himself the
lead person to 'show Ben how we do it here'. Everybody agreed, but in reality they all just started where they were,
got what was closest to their plate, and moved on to the next thing. "Organized Confusion' Frank called it.

What a meal Kate had put together! There was the best Fried Chicken in the county - first prize at the county fair
three years running - the creamiest mashed potatoes you ever ate, rice and black-eyed peas with just right touch of
fatback, creamed squash with chopped onions cooked in, homemade biscuits with real country butter, and turnip
greens. Add Southern Sweet-tea with lemon to drink and a minced Apple Pie and a Pecan Pie for desert, topped
with home churned ice-cream. Why, a man could over-eat and die happy with a meal like that.

But the fellowship around the table was even better than the food. There was prayer and praise to God. There were
compliments thrown in every direction. There were discussions about the sermon and questions about how to
implement the sermon's message into their personal lives.

Ben was glad when his parents drove up. He was nervous about this talk of taking the sermon personally.

Ben stood and went out front to greet his parents. Kate nudged Frank, "Get out there and greet his folks hospitably,

"Oh, you know how I get all tongue tied when I meet new people," Frank resisted.

"Get out there, Frank. I'm right behind you."

Ben was the first to get out to the car. "Mama, Daddy, Thanks for coming. These are my new friends." Between hugs
with his parents Ben introduced Frank, Otis, and Kate to his parents, Fred and Mary Wilson.

Kate invited everyone to have dessert, which she had been postponing until the Jenkins arrived. They all sat down
to pie and ice-cream and small talk. Afterward Ben and his parents slipped away to the car to check out Ben's items.

“So, how did your GPS work?” Ben asked.

“Incredible! That thing is …how can I put it? ... I never knew an electronic device could so ... stupid! It had me turn
off Route 17 onto the Andrews Highway, go one block, and then turn right onto Route 17. Had me going in circles!  
Then I get to Murrells Inlet … it sent me way up to Dick Pond Road to get to Enterprise – the longest way possible.”
Ben laughed.

Then, Ben's mother finally brought the obvious question that was on their minds, "Ben, what's with the beard?"

Ben had not shaved since they dropped him off. His beard was thick, dark, and covered almost all of his face.

"Well, I thought it might disguise me a little - make me less recognizable. It seemed to pay off this morning at the
boat dock. I overheard some guys talking about what they would do if they caught me. Fortunately, they didn't
recognize me."

"Well, I think it looks rugged, woodsy - it looks good on you," his daddy said.

His mama said, "It makes you look older, but I think it also makes you look distinguishing. Just don't start smoking a

They laughed. Then Fred approached the car. He opened the trunk and removed a folded rubber raft, a sturdy
looking bow, and a pack of six arrows.

“Great daddy,“ Ben said excitedly. “This is perfect.  How big is it?”

“Eight by five. Should be plenty for what you need.” He pulled out two paddles to go with it.

Ben examined the bow and arrows. The Jenkins family came out when they saw Ben examining his new items.
“You planning to learn how to use that?” Otis asked.

“Yeah, how hard can it be? Did it all the time when I was a kid playing Cowboys and Indians,” Ben stated confidently.

Otis wasn't so confident, but he kept his mouth shut.

“We brought you something else, son – a surprise. It was your mama’s idea,” Fred said with a big smile.

“What?” Ben gushed. He loved surprises.

Fred went to the backseat and pulled out a soft vinyl guitar case.

“Oh, man!” Ben squealed. “I haven’t played that thing in ages. That should give me something to do to pass the
time. Thanks, mama … daddy. How much do I owe you for all the supplies?”

“Oh, son, just take it as a gift,” Mary said.

“No, mama. I have to pay my own way as much as I can. I have plenty of cash right now and not much to spend it on.
What was the bill?”

“Ben!” Fred tried. “Really, son. Let us pay for this.”

“No, daddy. Here is two hundred dollars. Does that cover it?”

“Oh, no,” Mary said, “It was only one hundred and fifty …” She stopped. “Oh, Ben, why did you make me do that?”

“Ha! I know you too well, mama.”

“Here, take this money. Put it somewhere for when I really need it. Thanks guys. Hey Frank, can I plug up the pump
for my boat?”

“Sure, Ben. Take all the time and electricity you need.” Then the Jenkins family excused themselves and went inside
to give Ben and his family some more private time together.

After the boat was fully pumped up, they threw it on top of the car and drove to the boat dock. As they drove away
from the house, Ben shouted goodbyes to everyone through the open windows. Frank, Kate, and Otis came to the
front porch and waved them off. “Nice to meet you,” they called to the Wilson’s. “Come back anytime.”
Ben slid his raft into the water, loaded in his bow, arrows, guitar, and a few leftovers Kate had packaged for him. His
kissed his parents goodbye and headed down the river. This would be much faster and easier. He would hide the
boat when he got to the cabin, so he would not be easily discovered. People seldom entered the cove where he
stayed, but he wanted to be as undetectable as possible.