It was a bright, sunny day. It seemed to Bob Keller that the weather should be dark and gloomy considering the event of the previous night. He was standing at the doorstep of Mr. and Mrs. Keller, Jeffrey’s parents. He rang the bell and the door was quickly answered by Clare.
“Hello, Bob! What a nice surprise! Come in, please. What can we do for you?” she asked, as she and Bob walked toward the kitchen where Bill was having his morning coffee. “I’m afraid you’ve caught me at a bad time, Bob. I’m on my way out but I’m sure Bill would love to chat with you. It’s been so long!”
“Yes, it has. Clare, you may want to stay for a moment,” Bob declared. He couldn’t help but notice her figure. He had always been attracted to her and was a bit embarrassed having noticed her in this way right in front of her husband. “Bill, Clare, is Jeffrey home? I need to speak to him as well.”
“Of course! He just got home about an hour ago.” Bill went to the staircase and called up to Jeff. “Yeah?” Jeff answered his Dad and quickly added, “I’ll be right there, Dad!” Bill came back to the kitchen. “He’ll be down in a minute, Bob. He has a few classes off today so it’s perfect timing.” Bill hesitated but then asked Bob, “Has Jeffrey done something wrong?”
“Oh, heaven’s no! He’s not in any trouble. This is about someone else’s trouble, I’m afraid.” As he finished his sentence, Jeffrey came downstairs.
“Hey, Mr. Keller. What’s up?” Jeff asked. He knew he hadn’t done anything wrong himself but he suspected that his friend Gabe had done something. Gabe was always getting into trouble. His home life wasn’t pleasant so he was always hanging around in places and with people he shouldn’t. He was in school most of the time because at least there he was away from his alcoholic mother and abusive father. When school was out, Gabe hung out with older guys who drank and smoked pot. They always had some scheme planned and Gabe always wanted in on the action. He had been busted by Bob several times and his father always got him out of any consequences, however, the consequences his father dished out were far worse than juvenile detention. Unfortunately, Gabe’s shenanigans were not on Bob’s mind this morning.
“I’m afraid I have some bad news.” Bob hated giving bad news, especially this kind of bad news. He hesitated and then spit it out. “Last night a young woman was killed by a wild animal down by the lake.” He went on to tell the Scotts about Elizabeth and then he turned to Jeff. “Jeff, I’m very sorry. I know you and Elizabeth were close. Mr. Johnston said you had proposed to her just last night, is that correct?” Bob asked. “Yeah, I did. I love…loved her so much.” His voice trembled. He sat down on a stool at the breakfast bar. “Her father threw me out of the house and I waited for Elizabeth to call me but she never did.” Bob then asked, “Do you know what time it was when Mr. Johnston threw you out?” Jeff thought for a moment and then he said, “It was around 9:30, I think.” Clare had her hand over her mouth and Bill had one hand on her shoulder, the other on the back of Jeffrey’s neck. “And did you go home after that?” Bob inquired. “No, sir. I went to my brother’s house. Andrew lives up on Orange Blossom Road. I was there until about an hour ago. I knew I didn’t have morning classes so I just spent the night there.” “Sorry I didn’t let you and Mom know, Dad.”
Bob still needed to tell Jeff about the baby. Clare was in tears, and in total disbelief. She asked of Bob, “What kind of animal is roaming the lake in Sandy Oaks? I mean, what could have possibly killed a human being? We never see bears or wild cats, or any evidence that they’ve been there. What was it, Bob?”
Bob told the Johnston’s that the only thing they knew for certain was that it was an animal attack but they weren’t sure yet what kind of animal it was. They weren’t even sure yet if the animal was rabid so he urged them to keep their eyes open and to not approach any strange animal, even if it appeared to be harmless. He then asked to speak with Jeff alone. Bill and Clare nodded their permission and with that, Jeff walked out of the kitchen leading Bob to the living room.
“Jeff, I don’t know if you’re aware of this or not… but… Elizabeth was pregnant.” Jeff looked surprised and shaken. He didn’t know. “So, I’ve lost the girl I love with all my heart and…and my child…” Jeff was visibly upset and Bob could tell he was trying very hard to keep from crying out loud. “I’m so sorry, Jeff.” Jeff needed to be alone and Bob recognized that so he left, asking Jeff to give his parents his regards. Jeff nodded in agreeance.
Jeff went back to the kitchen where his parents waited. He told them Bob said goodbye and then about the baby. Bill and Clare cried with their son and Clare decided to stay in for the day. They were disappointed that Jeff and Elizabeth hadn’t used protection but this was not the time to talk about that. This was a time of mourning.