Spike – A Novel (Chapter 13)

Chapter 13

Spike was about 3 miles east of the Johnston’s house. He wasn’t going to go back there but he was hungry so he was on the hunt for food. He would either catch a rodent or if he was lucky, some nice human would set a dish of food out for him.

Spike soon spied a small blue house where several kids were playing. Most were older boys, playing ball in the street. Older kids could be mean, especially boys. Spike was about to slip behind the row of houses and travel the drainage ditch to the next neighborhood when he saw a little boy playing by himself between the little blue house and the yellow one to the right. He noticed the boy was eating something so he went to investigate.

The boy was very young, maybe around 3 years old, and Spike noticed a human watching from the kitchen window, just above where the boy was playing. Spike watched until the human walked away and then approached the boy. He was eating cheese and crackers and Spike loved cheese! The boy reached out for Spike when he saw him. Spike sat next to the boy, waiting for a bite of cheese but the boy just wanted to pat him on the head. This was unacceptable to Spike!

Spike bit the boy’s arm but quickly let go. It was just a nudge to get the boy to give him a bite. “Owie,” cried the boy. He smiled at Spike with a puzzled face. He liked cats but he didn’t understand why the cat bit him. The boy, wanting to be friends with the Spike, reached his arm out with a piece of cheese in his hand. “Here kitty-cot,” said the boy handing Spike the bite of cheese. Spike took the cheese gently from the boy’s fingers. He didn’t want to hurt the boy if he was sharing his cheese.

Spike wanted more cheese and the boy wouldn’t oblige. Spike cocked his ears back, ready to give the boy another snap with his teeth when the boy handed him his plastic plate with the rest of his cheese and crackers. The boy’s human came out of the house about that time and Spike grabbed as many pieces of cheese off the plate as he could fit in his mouth and ran! He knew from experience that many humans didn’t like cats.

In the bushes near the drainage ditch, Spike stopped to eat his cheese. As he ate the last little bit he heard a rustling in the bushes. Investigation proved to be a tiny mouse that was so small it was hardly worth the effort but Spike was still hungry. He snuck up on the tiny mouse, caught it quickly and devoured it, leaving the gut behind, before moving on to the next neighborhood.

After a short walk, Spike ventured over to a house that had a familiar scent. There was another cat, a white fluffy female. Spike was interested. Not only was he interested in the female but if the humans in this house had a cat then maybe they wouldn’t mind setting out a little extra food for one more.

A man came out of the house, calling for his cat. “Fluffy, where are you?” He saw Spike and said, “Aww, poor kitty. Are you homeless?” The man was of small stature and he walked with a limp. He looked old and tired, but he didn’t yell at him with a raised fist so Spike knew he was a nice human. The man sat out a bowl with some milk for Spike while he searched for Fluffy.

Spike looked at the bowl of milk, wondering where the cheerios were. Elizabeth always gave him cheerios in milk. Spike didn’t mind too much and he lapped up the milk quickly. He thought of Elizabeth and missed her. He knew he’d never see her again.

Spike – A Novel (Chapter 12)

Chapter 12

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.

Spike – A Novel (Chapter 11)

Chapter 11

It was 8:45am just a few hours after the devastating news. Howard had fallen asleep on the sofa from total exhaustion of finding out that his only daughter was dead. He couldn’t believe it was true. For the first few seconds upon waking he thought it had been a dream. Now he remembers it wasn’t a dream and that Elizabeth had been killed by a wild animal of some kind. He was devastated and started to tear up again, but he knew he had to pull it together and be the man that his wife and son needed. It was too late for him to be a father to Elizabeth; the father she so deserved. He knew he could do better; be better.

Howard looked up and saw Jen at the top of the stair. She looked so frail and broken. As he was thinking of what to say, Jonathan came from his downstairs bedroom like a wild wind. He stopped when he saw his father. “Dad, I just heard something about a wild animal attack down by the lake!” He seemed to be entertained by the thought of something so exciting happening in this “armpit of Sandy Oaks” as he called it. Howard told him to come into the living room and sit for a minute. Jon looked up and saw his mother take a few steps down the staircase, and then she turned and ran back up. The bedroom door slammed behind her.

Jonathan looked puzzled. He recalled the time his mother broke down and his father put her in the mental facility to help her “get over” her mother’s death. He couldn’t understand why his mother had to get over anything. Didn’t she have the right to feel the way she did? Jon did as his father asked and came into the living room.

“Whatever it is, I didn’t do it,” Jon declared. He seemed worried that he was in trouble but couldn’t think of what it could be. He thought that maybe his father had forgotten that today was a half-day of classes, and he didn’t have a class until 1:35am. “Jon, something has happened. I need to tell you…” Howard’s voice cracked and he bowed his head for a moment. He composed himself quickly and said, “Jon, the animal attack down by the lake… Your sister… Elizabeth was killed by a wild animal. She’s the one who was attacked, Jon.” Howard’s voice cracked as he struggled to get the words out but he finally did. Jon looked at his father with total disbelief. For a few seconds, he thought his father was playing a cruel joke on him but realized that that wasn’t his father’s style. He saw the tears well up in his father’s eyes and he knew it was true. Jon sat down and let it sink in for a bit and then he broke down. This was different than when Gramma died, he thought. Gramma was old and sick. She lived her life. Beth isn’t supposed to die this young. She had her whole life. It’s not fair, it’s not fair… Finally, the tears came and father and son sobbed together. A strong embrace followed. This was the first time in many years that the two of them had connected in any way. They stood with their arms wrapped around each other for several minutes.

“Let’s go up and check on your mother, Jon. She needs us now.” Howard told Jon and Jon nodded in agreement. They wiped their tears, hugged once more, and went upstairs.

Spike – A Novel (Chapter 10)

Chapter 10

The forensic team of 3 arrived on the scene fairly quickly. Photographs were taken of Elizabeth’s body, as well as the surroundings. Footprints were marked, as were pieces of fabric, and a tooth. Notes were taken, and there was talk amongst the 3 of them as they surveyed the crime scene. They seemed to agree with Bob Keller’s assessment of the scene; this looked like an animal attack. When their job was completed, the Medical Examiner’s office transported the body to the morgue. The team would then assemble and examine all the evidence collected and present it to the ME, who would consider every detail and with his thorough examination of the body, determine the cause and manner of death.

It was 5:10am. Bob Keller was not looking forward to what he had to do next. As the forensic team was leaving the scene, Bob couldn’t help but think about this young girl he watched grow up. She was a very intelligent, personable and energetic little girl. She had grown into a lovely young lady. He was overcome by sadness of the loss of such a sweet soul at such a young age. He wondered as he wiped a tear from his cheek, how am I going to break this horrific news to Howard and Jen?

Bob and his 2 rookies, Carol and Beverly, walked slowly back up to the house. Howard opened the door before Bob could even knock. “Bob, what the hell have you been doing down by the lake all this time?” Howard snipped impatiently as he motioned Bob to come in. Carol and Beverly walked back to the squad car after Bob urged them on with a nod in that direction.

As Howard and Bob entered the living room Bob felt a lump in his throat. “Howard, I don’t know….” He began to speak but the words just wouldn’t come.

“Goddamnit, Bob. Spit it out. What the hell is going on?” Howard yelled.

“Howard, I’m sorry to have to tell you this, but we found Elizabeth down by the lake. She’s gone,” Bob explained.

“What do you mean gone? You just said you found her down by the lake,” Howard quickly realized what Bob meant. “Bob, you need to just say it. Say it out loud!”

“She’s dead, Howard. I’m very sorry. We can’t be certain until the ME’s investigation is complete, but it looks like she was attacked by an animal. It may have been rabid.”

Howard sat down. Jen came into the room and she was immediately alarmed. She could tell by her husband’s face that something was terribly wrong. She came down the stairs slowly, with great dread. “What’s happened? Howard? What’s wrong? Tell me. Tell me now!” With Bob’s help, Howard told his wife what had happened. She dropped to her knees and wept uncontrollably. Howard tried to console her, but she threw her arms about and cried, “Don’t touch me! Leave me alone!” She was distraught, as expected but she failed to see how upset Howard was. He had never faced anything of this nature. The loss of his only daughter was unbearable. He sat down on the sofa and buried his face in his hands.

After a few awkward moments, Bob told Howard and Jen that he would be leaving but that he would be in touch as soon as he knew anything more from the ME’s office. Howard pulled himself together and stood. Bob asked, “Howard, is there anything I can do, or anyone you’d like for me to call?” Howard shook his head and extended his hand. They shook hands and Bob left with a tear in his eye.

Jen stood and reached for a tissue on the end table near the sofa. She turned to Howard and slapped him hard across the face. She was very well composed for a woman who just moments before was a crumpled mess on the floor. “You were always the hard-ass, the man who had to have everything his way, the man whose children couldn’t get close to, the man…the man… What kind of man are you?” She yelled at him. She ran up the stairs and slammed the bedroom door behind her.

Howard knew she was right. He had to have everything his way. He never considered anyone else’s point of view regarding anything. Elizabeth and Jonathan never came to him for help, to talk, or for anything…ever. Now Elizabeth was gone. If only I’d not have been so harsh with Jeff when he was here, he thought. Why couldn’t I just be happy that Elizabeth had found someone to make her happy? Do I really think that little of Jeff and his family? 

Howard now had the rest of his life to regret his actions and attitude. He was going to be in hell for the rest of his life and he knew he deserved it.

Spike – A Novel (Chapter 9)

Chapter 9

It was now 4:15 am. Bob Keller and his 2 rookies were almost half-way down the path to the lake. Bob knew better than to tell Howard that his 2 men were rookies and women, at that. (The reason they were outside, rather than inside was to prevent a scene while Bob was questioning Howard.)

Carol Janson was a thin blond in her late 20’s. She was alert at all times and seemed to have the strength of a bull. Beverly Liftken, on the other hand, was a brunette, a little older, a little heavier and definitely not as strong as a bull. However, she was level headed, intelligent, and did everything by the book.

It was Carol who first saw something in the path. Her flashlight drifted across something and Carol immediately passed the light across the path again. “Bev-” Carol yelled out and turned her face to the bushes. She had never seen a murder victim since she had been on the job for just 3 weeks.

Beverly quickly came up the path to meet Carol. “Oh, my God. Sergeant Keller!” Bob was right behind the two women and was horrified at what he saw. The body of young Elizabeth was covered with crimson blood, glistening in the faint light of the morning. “What in God’s name happened here? We’ve got what appears to be deep scratches and torn flesh. She may have encountered a large wild animal.” Pumas have been known to walk the woods but they were scarce. “We won’t know for sure what has happened until we get the forensic team here. Carol, make that call and don’t disturb anything here.”

The town of Sandy Oaks was small but had an excellent team of law enforcement and forensic investigators. The Medical Examiner was an older man with a spotless reputation. He was sometimes called away to testify in court regarding high-profile murder cases. The forensic team was sometimes called to aid in special cases in surrounding towns because those towns were even smaller than Sandy Oaks.

Carol did as Bob instructed. The Medical Examiner was on his way as were 3 forensic specialists. As she put her cell phone back into her pocket, she glanced up the road toward the Johnston’s house. There was a light in the distance and she knew Howard and Jen were waiting for news. No parent wants to hear news like this, she thought.



Just in case you missed the first 8 chapters or need to refresh your memory, you can follow the links below! Thanks for reading!

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8