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 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.


“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.