Spike – A Novel In Progress (Chapter 8)

Chapter 8

It was nearing 4:00am and Detective Bob Keller was on his way. The time passed so slowly as they waited for Bob. Howard seemed to be wearing a path across the hardwood floor and Jen rocked in her mother’s antique rocking chair, trying to stay calm. Finally, the doorbell chimed.

As Howard opened the door, a gust of wind rushed through the room. So did Spike. “Damn cat,” Howard growled. He let Detective Keller in. “That worthless damn cat.” He grabbed Spike by the scruff of the neck and tossed him out the door with a great thrust. Spike landed on his feet in the bushes about 10 feet from the house. Spike gave Howard a look that could kill… if looks could kill, that is.

“Hello, Bob. I want my daughter found and that no-good Scott boy prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law!”

“Nice to see you too, Howard,” Bob remarked. “Tell me what you think is going on.”

“Jeffrey Scott has run off with my daughter! He’s a lousy bum. All he wants is my money!” shouted Howard.

Bob wanted to slap some sense into Howard’s thick skull. Jeffrey Scott was a nice young man, with a great head on his shoulders. He was taught the meaning of responsibility by Bill and Clare Scott. He had never given his parents any reason to worry about him or mistrust him.

“When did you last see Elizabeth?” Bob asked Howard and Jen.

“The last time we saw her was around 9:45 last night. It was just after I kicked that boy out of my house!” Howard’s face was red like the hottest coal in a winter fireplace.

“And what time was it that you kicked Jeffrey out?” Bob asked as he wrote in his little notebook.

Jen answered, “It was 9:25 exactly, Bob. Poor Elizabeth. Jeffrey had just asked Howard for her hand in marriage. How romantic it should have been. The moment was ruined because my husband is worried about his money!” Detective Keller looked at her with such sadness and utter disbelief that Howard could be so cruel.

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“Where did Elizabeth go after you kicked Jeff out?” Bob asked Howard, knowing that he would be fuming over what his wife just revealed. He knew that Jeff wouldn’t run off like that, and certainly not with a 16-year-old girl.

To that Howard answered, “She ran out the door. She probably went down by the lake for a walk. What the fascination is with that lake, I don’t know. I know she and that boy ran off, otherwise she would have come home by now.”

“And you haven’t seen her since the incident with Jeff, is that correct?” Bob asked seriously.

“Do you think you would be standing here if I had seen her?” Howard retorted.

Bob thought to himself, What a pompous ass! “Alright. We’ll take a look down by the lake,” he told Howard as he headed to the door. “I will keep in touch.”

“Don’t take all damn morning,” Howard ordered and was about to slam the door behind Bob when Bob turned and asked, “Did you by any chance think to go down by the lake and look for Elizabeth yourself?”

Howard slammed the door.

Spike – A Novel (Chapter 7)

Chapter 7

It was getting very late now and Jen was worried that something may have happened to Elizabeth.

Howard wasn’t worried that Elizabeth was in danger. His only concern was that Jeffrey Scott may have taken his daughter and run off to elope. Howard picked up his phone and called Jeffrey’s parents.

“Hello?” answered a sleepy voice on the other end.

“This is Howard Johnston. Put Jeffrey on the phone!” Howard demanded.

“Do you know what time it is?” asked the angry voice, fully awakened by Howard’s rudeness.

“Of course I do, damn it. Put Jeffrey on this instant, it concerns my daughter.” Howard was angry.

Clare Scott got up, slipped on her robe and slippers and walked to her son’s room. She knocked on the door, then entered. Jeff’s bed hadn’t been slept in. “Bill, where’s Jeff?” She was almost hysterical. Jeff was never this late coming in unless he called. He was a very reasonable and considerate young man.

“Jeff who?” answered her husband half asleep and jokingly.

“Oh, come on Bill! This is no time for your silly ass remarks! He hasn’t been home.” It was now 2:00am.

Bill got out of bed stark naked and slapped Clare on the behind as he looked over Clare’s shoulder into Jeff’s room. “Where’s Jeff?” he asked sarcastically. He rarely took anything seriously. He chuckled to himself as Clare ran down the hall.

“You bastard!” Clare was furious with her husband. She couldn’t understand how he could joke so freely about something that could potentially be serious.

“He probably went out for a walk or met up with some of his buddies and just lost track of the time.” Bill wasn’t worried. He trusted his son. He knew he was just fine. “I’m sorry, Clare,” he spoke softly to her. It was just his nature to make people laugh. She knew he had always been the class clown, the neighborhood joker, and the family smart ass when she married him.

Clare remembered Howard was on the phone and waiting to talk to Jeff. She picked up the phone and put it to her ear, not knowing if he was still there. “Mr. Johnston, Jeff must have gone out again. He’s not here,” she told him as politely as she could without gagging. She hated being nice to disrespectful people.

“Damn you people and your perverted ways! Your son has run off with my daughter,” Howard yelled. “I’m calling the police!”

“Damn you too, you filthy rich bastard! I’d like to kick your ass all the way to China, you and that better-than-thou attitude!” Clare was angry and threw down the phone. She was unaware that Howard had already hung up and didn’t hear anything she said. She despised people like Howard Johnston. He seemed to think that having money meant he could be disrespectful to others. That poor woman, Clare thought to herself. How the hell can Jen put up with that man?

 

By now it was 2:24am. Howard was on the phone with the police. Jen was panic-stricken with worry over Elizabeth and with what Howard might do to the Scotts. They were good people and Jen had never had a problem with any of them.

He hung up the phone, still very angry. He poured himself some whiskey and sat down on the sofa to wait for the police to come.

“Howard, what’s going on?” Jen asked as she sat down in her mother’s antique rocking chair.

“Bob’s on his way over,” he told her without even looking up at her.

Detective Bob Keller was a close friend of the family. Howard knew that Bob would rush over if he were in need of anything.

“Howard, calm down before Bob gets here. You know your temper gets in the way of rational thinking sometimes.” Jen knew her efforts to calm him were of no use.

“Don’t you lecture me about rational thinking, woman!” Howard was cold and careless with his words. He got up and poured himself another drink.

Jen knew Howard was reminding her (in his own hateful way) of the period of time she spent in the Sandy Oaks Mental Facility 2 years ago. She did not take the death of her mother well and needed help in coming to terms with it. Jen left the room, with a hatred in her eyes that could have killed. She didn’t love Howard anymore. She hadn’t for a very long time. Love started to fade when Howard put her in that facility for 6 long months, and after she returned home she felt no love whatsoever for Howard Johnston. She stayed with him only for their children. She was faithful, but she longed for something more fulfilling. She really truly hated Howard tonight. She would soon find the strength to leave him.

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Spike – A Novel (Chapter 6)

Chapter 6

“Jen, it’s nearly midnight. She’s not back yet. I need to talk to that child.” Howard was disturbed but worried. “Her damn cat’s here. I hate that stupid cat. Maybe I should let her marry that boy so she’ll take that damn puss with her.”

“Oh, come on, Howard. That cat keeps to himself. He never bothers anyone.” Jen had no intention of letting her husband’s worries become hers. “Elizabeth is a good girl. She’ll be home soon.”

“Mom,” Jonathan called as he entered the living room. “Where is Beth? I need some help with this algebra.”

“She’s not home yet, Jon,” answered his mother.

“You do your own damn homework, boy!” His father entered the conversation. “What’s the big idea of putting it off until so late at night?”

“I’ve been working on my term paper all day and I thought I’d leave the algebra until Beth got home.” Jonathan and Jeff were the only ones who called her Beth.

“Use that head of yours. You’re going to Yale in a few years, so you’d better start thinking for yourself,” his father yelled.

Howard Johnston had attended Yale, as did his father and his father before him. Howard believed whole-heartedly that this was a family tradition worth carrying on. His son would be no exception. He would attend Yale, even if Howard had to hire tutors full time and keep Jonathan from any extra-curricular activities; anything to keep Jonathan at the top of his class.

“Dad, I just need a little help getting started. You know I’m not very good at math and it comes so easy to Beth. She seems to know how to explain it so that it’s easier for me.” Jon always butted heads with his father about something but mostly about school.

Jonathan was just 13 years old and was small for his age. He was a Freshman at Sandy Oaks High School and excelled in every subject except math, although his grades were generally B’s and sometimes C’s. He had no intention of going to Yale or any other college after he graduated. He had his sights set on a trade school where he could learn a trade and get a good job. Of course, this could change since he was so young, but he wanted to be out in the workforce sooner than later.

Beth and Jon were a very close brother and sister. Beth always spent time with Jon as they were growing up. They weren’t just siblings, they were best friends. Some of the best times they had together were when they played outside with no adult interference. They would talk and laugh and Beth would give the best piggyback rides! Of course, that was when they were so much younger, before school became such an obstacle.

Jon left the room to avoid another argument with his dad. He sensed that something was amiss with his parents and he knew it had to do with Beth. He wondered if they found out about the baby but he didn’t dare mention it. Beth confided in him 2 weeks ago and he promised to keep it to himself. He had no intention of breaking his promise.

As he left the room, he spotted Spike sitting outside of Beth’s bedroom door. Funny she’s not back to feed Spike by now, he thought to himself as he went into his own bedroom. He shut the door behind him. He never trusted that cat.

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Spike – A Novel (Chapter 5)

Chapter 5

Spike was a gorgeous cat. He was a silver tabby and his black striping was perfectly symmetrical. His emerald green eyes glowed in the dimmest of light. He was extremely long and slender, with his tail as long as his body. He had the speed of a wildcat.

Elizabeth had found Spike down by the lake several years ago. He had been abandoned by his mother at just a few weeks old. There had been no sign of another cat anywhere, but a kitten that small would have never survived long without its mother. Elizabeth decided to take Spike home and raise him herself. Her father had not approved of this, but Jen had taken the upper hand, something she had rarely done. “A girl should have a kitten,” she told her husband. “I won’t let you take that away from her, Howard. I won’t let you!” Howard said no more about it and Elizabeth was allowed to keep Spike.

At a very early age, Spike had developed a voracious appetite. He took advantage of Elizabeth’s snack times, especially the 11:00pm snack. Elizabeth grew older and grew out of most of those snack times since she had to watch her slim figure.

At 11:00pm every night, though, Elizabeth and her feline companion would eat popcorn or crackers and cheese whilst watching television. Sometimes they enjoyed a bowl of cereal or a dab of ice cream. Afterward, they would play fetch together.

Spike would retrieve anything Elizabeth could toss across the room. She had not taught him this. It started one morning when Elizabeth was writing a letter. She had made an error and threw the crumbled piece of stationary to the floor. Spike brought it back. She threw it down again, several times. Each time Spike brought it back. When Elizabeth realized what Spike was doing she stopped her letter writing and made it a game. Spike had a little rubber salamander that ended up being his favorite toy to fetch.

Spike was a very loving cat, at first. He began roaming the neighborhood and found himself only coming home for snack time. He became very unsociable with everyone except Elizabeth. He became spiteful and mean one time when Elizabeth was late for snack time. She was late by only a few minutes. He had attacked her, leaving a bite mark on her right calf. Her muscle was tender and swollen for quite some time but she kept it clean and treated it with antibiotic ointment. She kept this injury from her parents, fearing she’d have to get rid of Spike, or at the very least have to go to the doctor. She even avoided the truth so many years later, when asked about the scar.

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Spike – A Novel (Chapter 3)

Chapter 3

Elizabeth looked at her watch and realized that if she didn’t start back right now, she’d run the risk of missing Spike’s snack time. He would be very angry with her. She had only missed his snack time once in his lifetime, and then only by a few minutes. It took her 4 days to get Spike to forgive her. He turned very spiteful. He would ignore her and only eat when she wasn’t looking. He wouldn’t play fetch with her or purr in her lap. He would only stare at her and tear things up when she was gone. He waited every night until Elizabeth went to bed, and when she was asleep he would knock things off the shelves in her room just to wake her. He also kicked the litter out of the litter box just to watch Elizabeth clean it up. She decided she had better hurry on her way.

She turned toward the house, which was about a mile up the dirt path. It was so much easier getting here than going back, she thought to herself. Walking back up seemed to take forever. 

She stopped and looked at her watch. It was 10:45. Well, Spike, she thought. I’m going to be a little late. Please don’t be too hard on me. The path wasn’t too steep. It was just a long walk. The dirt was dry and the coolness felt good on her bare feet. She slipped her shoes back on for the walk. When I get home I’ll take them off again. But first, I’d better get Spike his snack. 

She wondered what snack Spike might like tonight. He had a strange appetite. He liked popcorn, Doritos, and Cheerios. Sometimes he preferred pieces of cheddar cheese or maybe a little vanilla ice cream. It’s funny he isn’t fat, she thought.

She continued to walk and think. Her thoughts were not of Jeff or the baby, or even her father. She was worried that Spike would take her being late too personally and out of spite, eat her goldfish. 10:59 now. She looked up the path and saw the house. It was still a good quarter mile away. She looked at her watch. 11:00. Too late.

To Be Continued….

Chapter 1

Chapter 2