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Meeting Lizbeth - Chapter Five Part II
Louise Still Gone
Tom didn't know what to think or do. Louise had never been on her own. They married right out of college. First her father looked after her then Tom. She tried to play the independent woman, but she was far from it.
Maddy knocked on the study door. “I brought you some coffee.”
“Thanks. Just sit down Maddy, please.”
Maddy sat wearily in a nearby chair. No one had slept last night. Maddy's thoughts were filled with their childhood and the arrival of Louise. She'd never gotten over losing Tom and that was why she moved away. She couldn't bear seeing Tom with Louise. She knew she could never hide her feelings so she left. She'd worked as a nanny for several families, enjoying the children but was always missing Tom. She dated a few times, even becoming very fond of a guy named Brian. Brian was a cop. When he was off duty he wanted to have a good time. He was nice enough and she enjoyed his company, but he wasn't Tom.
Her mother always kept her up-to-date on Tom and Louise. Matilda knew about her daughter's feelings for Tom and understood better than anyone. She neither encouraged nor discouraged her daughter. She knew Maddy had to find her own way and live with her own decisions. She knew all too well how it was to love a man you couldn't have. John was her husband, but Andrew was the love of her life.
Maddy waited for Tom to speak not wanting to intrude on his thoughts. Tom always looked the same though now the worry was etched on his face. It was easy to see how he was feeling.
“My contact hasn't found Louise yet, but I have no doubt he will. What I am worried about is what will happen after that. What kind of damage has this done to her?”
“Life is never easy Tom. We all have to deal with disappointment and loss.”
“This is so much more than disappointment Maddy, this is devastating.”
“Do you really think she had no idea? Didn't you ever think it was odd how she stayed away from other women?”
“She lost her mother at fourteen for God's sake. That has to do something to your mind, especially watching her die. She must have been afraid to get close to another woman. You heard Joseph. Then there was my mother too.”
“Yes, but I also heard what he didn't say.”
“What are you implying Maddy?”
“Nothing Tom. Let's just be patient and see how this all works out.”
“How what works out?” Lizbeth asked as she walked into the room.
“We were just worrying about your mother sweetheart and where she could be. Why don't the three of us go in the kitchen and rustle up some breakfast?”
As they walked toward the kitchen, Lizbeth asked if anyone had heard from Grandpa Joseph? Tom said he thought they should give Grandpa a day or two to sort through his feelings. He didn't see any need to upset him over Louise's disappearance after all he had been through. He thought Grandpa could really use this time to himself, time to regroup and sort through his own feelings. Lizbeth disagreed. She didn't mean to be callous but right now she was more worried about Grandpa than her mother. She didn't tell her father that though. She thought it best to keep her thoughts to herself. Her mother chose to leave, what was Grandpa going through after telling his daughter the awful truth? He felt he had the burden on his shoulders for what happened now. He was all alone in that big house with no one to talk to. She knew he must be upset and probably worried too. It was pretty obvious her father was so Grandpa certainly must be too.
At sixty-five Joseph certainly wasn't old. He'd been alone too long and knew there was never another woman for him. June was the love of his life. With his wedding picture in his hand, he walked over to June's dresser. He opened her jewelry box and took out the locket that held a picture of June on one side and a picture of him on the other. He looked at the locket and wept.
“Where has life brought me June? What am I to do? Why did I tell Louise? What have I done?”
He was distraught over Louise's reaction to the story of her mother's death. He knew she would be shocked, but he believed it would help her. He didn't want to call over there just yet, thinking Louise and Tom needed time to think. The more he thought about it, the more it hurt and the more upset he got. Somehow he had been responsible for destroying the lives of the two most important people in his life, Louise and Lizbeth.
Louise had a wonderful life and a loving family. Surely Tom could help her through this crisis? Joseph paced the floor all night. Walking and wandering around the second floor. He found himself in his study, the room that had always given him the most comfort in the past. He sat at his desk, staring and shaking his head. The hours passed and he was surprised to see the sun coming up. He decided to wait until eight o'clock before calling Tom. He didn't want to disturb them, but he was so anxious. He watched the clock tick. At eight o'clock on the dot he called. Maddy answered the phone.
“Good morning, Sander's residence.”
“Maddy, it's Joseph. Is Tom there?”
“Certainly Joseph. Please hold on while I get him for you.”
“Good morning Joseph.”
He could tell right away something was wrong. Tom's voice held no emotion. It made him nervous. What had happened last night? Was everything all right? He was afraid to ask, but he did.
“Tom, how is Louise? Was it a really bad night?”
“I'm sorry Joseph, I don't know. She packed a bag and left last night.”
“I've called my man and he's out looking for her. I'm sure we'll find her.”
“But where would she go? Why didn't she come home?”
“Joseph, I don't want to be unkind, but that's probably the last place she wants to be right now. She needs time to think. Time to get her head together. This news was quite a blow.”
“Do you think she'll be all right? She's never been out on her own before. Tom maybe we should call the police. I can start driving around too.”
“Hold on Joseph. We'll find her. As soon as I have any information I'll call you or would you rather come over here? I can send a car for you.”
“No, Tom. I'll stay here. She probably doesn't want to see me anyway.”
“Joseph, don't beat yourself up over this. You did what you thought was best. I promise I'll call you.”
After they hung up Tom's words played over and over in his head, “you did what you thought was best...you did what you thought was best....you did what you THOUGHT was best. .. YOU did what you THOUGHT was best.”
“What have I done Junie?” Joseph shouted, over and over. He put his head on his desk and cried, still clutching his wedding picture and June's locket.
That was how they found him the next day. He didn't answer his phone and Tom became concerned. Poor guy, Tom thought. Carrying this around with him all these years and now what could have been relief turned out to be a worse torture. The doors were unlocked and Joseph didn't answer when Tom called his name. Tom went through the downstairs rooms before heading upstairs. He checked Joseph's bedroom and then headed for the study.
Tom checked his pulse at his wrist, then his neck. He couldn't find anything. He called 911.
The ambulance arrived within minutes. Tom showed them to the study and told them he hadn't done anything but check his pulse at his wrist and neck. The EMT's confirmed what Tom already knew, Joseph was dead.
Joseph's doctor called Tom later that afternoon.
“Tom, Joseph had a bad heart. I told him to avoid stress and take his medication, neither of which he ever did. I would say he had a massive coronary, but we'll know better once we have the autopsy results. Is there anything I can do for you or your family?”
“Not right now, but thank you, Bill.”
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