“Easy, boy,” he yelled out to his adrenaline-charged steed once he had pulled up at the cottage. Quickly hopping out of the buggy, he began a futile attempt to calm the unsettled creature. The horse’s loud, uncontrollable neighing was sure to disturb everyone inside of the residence. Sure enough, before he could bring his buck under control, the front door of the cottage had been opened. It was Amanda’s elderly father who stuck his head out to see what the commotion outside of his house was all about. As a show of courtesy, Mr. Sillow’s natural reaction at the sight of Mr. Toffer was to remove his trilby from his head. Had the sun been up, Mr. Toffer would have noticed him nervously squishing it together in his hands. He also would have picked up on signs of fear emanating from the impromptu visitor’s widened eyes. Everything about the stranger’s persona warranted red flags. But to his credit, on a whim, Mr. Sillow quickly snatched up a teddy bear that one of his daughters always left in the back-row seat of the buggy and briskly began walking over towards the curious Mr. Toffer while annunciating: “Hello, good sir, my name is Thomas Zimmers. Your granddaughter forgot to collect her prize from my booth at the fair a few months back, and I’ve been searching all over to find her and put it in her hands.” Not only had Mr. Sillow adorned himself with an alias, but he was now speaking with a speedy, exaggerated Southern-like twang and was replicating the actions of a vivacious fair vendor - a far stretch for the generally coy individual. “Now, I know how special these things are to children, so I wanted to personally deliver it to her. I do understand that it’s late and all, but my children can’t get a wink of sleep unless they have their teddy bear underneath of ’em. So if you don’t mind calling her to the door for me, I’d truly appreciate it. I know that she’s awake and thinking about this little guy right here in my hand as we speak.”
Once he had made his pitch, Mr. Sillow eagerly anticipated a wary Mr. Toffer’s response to his schtick. A look of disapproval could be seen on the old man’s normally impassive face before he even spoke a word. “Oh, really, Mr. Zimmers?” he asked the shady visitor incredulously. “Tell me, exactly how did you even know to look in this part of the town to find her?”
The fact that such an eccentric man who stunk of alcohol was at his front door soliciting to see his precious little girl at 1:00 o’clock in the morning made Mr. Toffer eerily uneasy. Having relocated from the city of New York to shield his newborn daughter from the many social ills that were synonymous with a highly populated society, he settled his family down in Yarmouth just days after her birth in perhaps the most remote area of the town. His real estate agent had procured for him and his family a splendid Cape Cod cottage situated on a spacious clearing in the town’s far-stretching forest that once belonged to a high-ranking public official. Numerous other steps were taken to ensure that his baby girl’s life remained as untainted as possible. She was homeschooled, was only allowed to play in the immediate vicinity of her dwelling, and was brainwashed to believe that only her and her parents existed in this world. However, life as she once knew it seemingly changed overnight when the physical health of her parents began to take a turn for the worst. Her mother, a chronic smoker, was stricken with emphysema and her father came down with muscular dystrophy. When she reached 11 years of age, her overly-concerned parents were inevitably forced to introduce her to society, for she would now have to take on the responsibility of running errands around town. Needless to say, her introduction to the real world was quite overwhelming. Though it took her a while to catch on to how things operated in society, she enjoyed every minute of the experience and quickly developed a disturbing fondness for strangers. Mr. Toffer was convinced that Mr. Sillow had pried the location of their residence out of his green daughter while she was out and about in the town area one day. Perhaps Mr. Toffer and his wife were the only residents in Yarmouth who hadn’t yet heard of Mr. Sillow’s inappropriate interaction with their daughter at the fair. His name had become notoriously synonymous with pedophilia. Unfortunately, nobody in the community even knew who the poor child’s parents were to enlighten them about the disturbing incident.
As Mr. Sillow swished his eyes around while attempting to find a plausible answer to give to Amanda’s father, his eyes ran across her, causing an inadvertent smile to break out on his face. The little girl had been awaken by the horse’s bruit as well and was standing just behind her father at the front door to see what was going on for herself. “What are you smiling at?” a confused Mr. Toffer asked him as he followed his eyes and spun around to glance behind him. Realizing that Mr. Sillow had spotted her, the young girl squirmed her way around her feeble father, who was blocking the doorway, and darted outside to greet her old friend.
“Fred!” she yelled gleefully as she jumped up into his arms.
“I thought you told me that your name was Thomas,” Mr. Toffer angrily shouted out as loudly as his shrinking voice would permit. “And get down out of that man’s arms right now, Amanda.”
As though he was no longer even in existence, both Mr. Sillow and the girl completely ignored Mr. Toffer’s latest statements. Instead, being the uncouth character that he was, Mr. Sillow carried the little girl over to his buggy to speak with her in private. “Amanda, I have missed you so much, and I’ve travelled miles upon miles just to take another look at your pretty face,” he expressed to her. He had set her down on the front bench’s edge inside of his buggy and purposely positioned himself directly in the front of her so that her gawking father could only see his broad back from his position in the cottage’s door. Mr. Sillow’s words to his underage friend were now spoken with confidence, unlike on the first day that they had met. And for whatever reason, Amanda hadn’t grown uncomfortable upon hearing such a suggestive remark come out of his mouth (something that could possibly be attributed to her having knowledge that her father was watching Mr. Sillow quite intently). Regardless, her father’s presence didn’t stop Mr. Sillow from making his next move. Placing his hand on the young girl’s thigh, he slowly began to massage it while looking directly into her eyes and said: “I ain’t gonna write it on no piece of paper this time; I’m just gonna come out and say it. Amanda, I genuinely and truly care about you. Amanda, I love you.” Just by glaring into his passion-filled eyes and hearing the fervor in his voice, the meaning of those three words was finally understood by her. Though he was out of earshot of her father, when the old man saw Mr. Sillow’s elbow bend and his arm begin to slide back and forth in a salacious manner, he rushed into action. Clutching on to his walking cane, he made his way over to the buggy with great difficulty.
“You disobedient little girl, get inside right now. And as for you, Tom, Fred, or whoever you may be, leave this area and don’t you ever let me see you around here again, or else!”
Mr. Toffer’s message to the unwelcomed visitor was clear and succinct, but his threatening statement to the man who had fallen deeply in love with his impressionable young daughter would adversely seal the fate of his future.