In the previous chapter Jerome was missing, and after finding him back John said he had to take him to the place where he had been hiding the following day.
Jerome’s plan didn’t work out. John told him to go with him and now he was skipping another school day. The boy was sure he couldn’t hide the truth from John. He was very nervous and not really talking much. While running he was thinking about what he could tell John later on.
John followed the running boy and told him to stop. “You’d better take it easy if you don’t want to be exhausted when we arrive at the place.
John understood that there had to be a reason for the boy’s escape and he decided not to force things.
They arrived at the cave which the boy had used as a hiding place for the stolen goods. When John saw the transmitter parts his jaw dropped.
He noticed the boy’s nerves. He sat down on a tree trunk and looked at him inquiring: “Can you give me an explanation for all of this? Why you don’t want us to build a transmitter?”
After some hesitating Jerome started talking…
“I’d rather stay here on this island with you… I know it’s a bit hard to understand but I ran away from my home.”
“But why? Why have you done this to your parents?”
“No, not my parents, just to my mother…” He hesitated but then he finally understood he better tell the truth. “You know, I never have known my father. He never intended to marry my mom and when he knew she was expecting me, he just disappeared. I know my mom had a hard time raising me all by herself but then… then she met another man, Rick, and he came to live with us in our house.
Honestly… I haven’t seen him very much in love with my mom, but he wanted to be involved in my education. He didn’t like me from the very start and in his eyes I couldn’t do anything right. He used to say ‘this boy grows up to be a good-for-nothing’. I don’t understand why my mother didn’t stand up to help me. I noticed she didn’t like the way he was treating me, but… she just let him.
Then, one day he convinced her to send me to a military boarding school. He said “there they will teach you what’s good for you!”
I didn’t want to go, but I had to… It was the weekend before I had to leave that I read about the cruise, but of course, I didn’t have any money…
My mom prepared everything for my stay at school, and the evening before I had to go, I sneaked into her room. I knew where she kept her money… I opened the drawer and took it.
Next day I took a taxi… they thought to school… but I went to the harbor instead to buy the ticket for the cruise.”
“How could you buy a ticket all by yourself? Without parents being at your side?” asked John.
“Yes, I had thought about that problem as well… so I waited for a family to check in. When I saw Lizzy with her parents, I went to her and started to talk to her… Then, when they bought the tickets, I put the money on the desk and said ‘I may pay with my own money as my mom said…’ It was just as I hoped… they assumed I belonged to the same family as Lizzy… That’s how I came on board… and, well, you know what happened afterwards!”
“So… you just don’t want to see your mother again, I suppose?” asked John.
“Yes, of course I want to see her again, but I’m not very proud of what I’ve done. I feel ashamed and I don’t even know if she noticed I’m not in boarding school!”
John said: “I’m sure she found out by now. The same school must have contacted her when you didn’t show up. The only thing is… she won’t know you went on the cruise and she must be very worried about your whereabouts. I think the money you took is the least important for her at this moment.”
“Do you think so? But… but what about Rick? I’m sure he will always remind me of being a bad son and a thief!”
“I suppose, you have to accept and take responsibility for the consequences of your deeds. Now… young boy, give me this stuff back and George can finish the transmitter.” He saw how the boy opened his mouth and closed it again if though he wanted to say something else. “Yes…? What is it, Jerome? What is it you want to say?”
“Eh… yes, I need to show you something.”
He took John to the hut where he had met the man who told him about the reality show. There was nobody there yet, but everything was still there. He told John about how he had lied about the island being inhabited.
John couldn’t believe his ears. “Now Jerome, by telling me this you will have a hard time to straighten out all of the lies you have been telling. Do me a favor and run back to camp. Ask George to prepare something to eat for both of us. I don’t know how long we’ll have to wait here until that man comes back, and the sun will set pretty soon too. Tell George to keep the mountain on his left side. I’ll wait for him at the cave. He will find it, I’m sure.
So Jerome went back home and gave the message to George without telling him the details about his betrayal.
George wondered what happened, but he assumed that John would have a powerful reason. He prepared a picnic basket and went on his way to meet John.
While eating something, both men talked about the new circumstances and later they had a look around the place where the hut had been built. It was already dark. There were many wooden crates which still needed to be opened. Their curiosity was big but they didn’t want to open those crates without the owner being present. There even was a very big satellite antenna that obviously wasn’t connected yet.
That evening nobody showed up… so they decided to put up the tent George had brought and sleep there. They certainly didn’t want to risk missing these people when they got back here.
Next day… very early they woke up to voices…
“Hey Simon, look at that tent. There must be somebody here!”
“Ah… that must be some of the people who live on the other side of the canyon. Surely they want to make sure we will leave.”
John and George quickly got out of the tent to explain about their real situation on this island.
After presenting themselves, they invited the men to have a picnic breakfast.
While eating together they told the men they were survivors from the shipwreck and would love to go home again.
The men looked at each other thinking the same… This would be breaking news you know… plus they could continue setting up the stage for their ‘reality show’.
“Well… let’s make a deal… You give us the details of the shipwreck and give us the first rights to bring the news…; of course we will make sure you will be taken home”.
“Sorry… but I think it wouldn’t be very nice if our relatives hear about this through television. At least give us the opportunity to contact our families first of all.”
“That’s a deal! You can go back to your actual house while we connect the satellite antenna we brought here. After that we will come to the other side of the canyon to see where you live right now…, do some filming and look if we can use your houses for the television team to stay during the reality show.”
John and George were very excited and wanted to go back to the others to tell them the news… when John remembered something. “We have a little girl with us, her name is Elizabeth Wizard. She was on the cruise with her parents but she ended up in our life boat and we don’t know what happened to her parents”.
“Don’t worry about that…, we know about the shipwreck. They have been able to save all the people. The only life boat they weren’t able to find was apparently the one you were in. So, go back now to your camp and wait until you notice you got the signal on your cell phone. Then you can call your family. We’ll see each other within an hour or so.”
“OK… Thanks! See you then!”
The first thing John did when they got home was gather everyone around for a very important meeting… even Lizzy.
Of course everybody was curious about this unexpected reunion.
When they were all seated, John told them the news. He pulled his cell phone out and looked at it… No, still no signal, but he kept the cell phone in clear site in case anything would change. He prepared them all for the big moment they could call their relatives. He told Lizzy that her parents had been saved and they would be home…
*Click…* They all heard the sound of the signal on John’s cell phone. They held their breath… many things tumbled through their minds…
John told Lizzy to try to call her parents. Lizzy dialed, and when she heard her father’s voice, the only word she could utter was ‘daddy…’ and then she started to cry… John quickly took the phone from Lizzy’s hand and talked to Lizzy father, explaining everything and they would be seeing them on the News on television before they would come home.
Meanwhile all the others were calling their families as well, and under tears and laughter they told them the good news.
Jerome had gone a bit farther away from the others when he called home. It was him mom who answered… “Mom, It’s me… Jerome…!”
Then the boy heard a noise of something or someone falling on the floor and he knew his mom had fainted.
He hung up and waited some minutes before trying to call her again but right at that moment his phone rang…She herself had called him back… It was as John has thought already. She knew he wasn’t at boarding school but she didn’t know where he had been all this time.
He excused to her for having taken the household money and promised to work until every single simoleon had been given back…
“My boy…, when I noticed you ran away, I went through a very bad time and I understood I had been selfish. Only because I was afraid of being left alone by Rick, I let him bully you. When they called us from the boarding school and told you weren’t there and later the police couldn’t find you…, Rick started to talk about you as he always used to do… Then I was so angry… I broke up with him and put him and all his belongings out in the street. No honey…, never mind… I’m not afraid anymore to be alone; I have just moved the bed a bit closer to the central heating.”
“So… now you’re alone again? I’m sorry mom, but for that I’m not sorry… “He had to laugh in spite of himself. He felt relieved about the way everything had turned out and told her he would be coming home soon. He felt good that there was no tension anymore between the two of them. “…And mom, look at the breaking news on TV. There you will find out where I have been all the time.”
John had taken Evelyn’s cell phone. Her relatives had the right to learn about her fate. It was a hard job for John to tell Evelyn’s parents about what had happened to her. He promised to take her remains with him as they wanted to give her a proper funeral. While he talked to her father, he heard a woman crying ‘… our girl…., our Evie…, she didn’t deserve to die….’
John told the others to prepare everything. They didn’t have much to take with them. The primitive things John had made could be left there as well.
They looked at each other and promised they would keep in touch when they were back home again.
The television people appeared and started filming everything for the breaking news… and they entered a whirl of events they couldn’t stop until they arrived in their respective home towns.
Shortly after that they met again at Evelyn’s funeral service. For Evelyn’s mom they did quite a lot of pretending about the deceased woman’s true character, because… about the dead… nothing but words of praise…!