Daniel was late for work, which was unlike him. Every other day, he had arrived exactly on time, or else early. It was no big deal, except that Keeley wanted to ask his opinion about a change she planned to make to the color scheme. He had an intuitive sense of which colors worked well together. She could text him, but she didn’t want him to think she was keeping tabs on him, or being anal about punctuality. He had probably slept in, and if so, good for him. He worked too hard. Keeley deliberately put Daniel’s whereabouts out of her mind, and started cleaning the bathroom. She was just finishing up washing the floor when she heard the door open. Oh good, he was here. She put the mop away and went to find him.
He was standing in the middle of the kitchen, not moving, a strange look on his face. He didn’t acknowledge Keeley, or even seem to be aware that she had come into the room.
“Daniel? Is everything alright?” she asked worriedly.
He turned his head slowly, and looked at her blankly, almost as if he had never seen her before. He opened his mouth to speak, but no words came out. He swallowed and tried again. Keeley was afraid he was having some kind of attack, and she was thinking she should call 911, when he finally spoke. “The bones,” he whispered, and then stopped.
“I don’t understand what you're saying. What about the bones?”
“It’s my Dad. Those are my Dad’s bones.”
Oh my God! Keeley grabbed a chair for Daniel to sit down, and she poured coffee for both of them. Daniel slumped back in the kitchen chair, and closed his eyes. Finally, he began to talk, although he kept stopping and shaking his head in confusion and grief. Keeley eventually learned that the police had shown up at his house that morning, early. The forensic investigation had revealed that the skeletons found in Keeley’s yard were those of Tom Freemont and Joyce Williams. The lovers had not run away as everyone believed. Instead, they had been murdered.
“The police think we did it,” Daniel told Keeley. “They think Mom and I killed them both, and buried their bodies in the yard out there.”
“Oh, I’m sure that's not true. They can’t believe that,” Keeley said. “If they did, they would have arrested you.”
“They think we did it, or at least one of us,” he insisted grimly. “They can’t prove it, but I could tell that’s what they believe. They think we discovered he was having an affair, and decided to kill them both.”
“I wonder what their theory is for why the bodies were buried in my yard,” Keeley mused.
“Dad was working on this house when he disappeared,” Daniel said. “The owners had hired him to do a complete renovation, so no one was living here at the time. He and Joyce must have met here, and whoever killed them just buried them in the backyard rather than moving the bodies. It would be less risky to bury them at what was essentially a construction site. With all the construction material that was around, it wouldn’t have been that hard to hide the evidence of the graves. God, what a nightmare, especially for my mother. I don’t want to leave her alone right now. I just came over to tell you I can’t work here today. I’m sorry.”
“No, of course you need to be with your Mom,” Keeley said. “Don’t even think about work. Take as much time as you need. Oh, Daniel, I’m so sorry about all this,” she added, putting her arms around him to give him a consoling hug. He wrapped his arms tightly around her, and held on for a long time. Finally, he drained his coffee cup, and left.
It had been a surprise to learn that Daniel’s father had been the one to do the major renovation on Keeley’s house. She wondered why Daniel had not mentioned it before, but then realized that he never talked about his father. He had begun to open up a little and had talked about his mother, his two sisters and his brother, but had not said one word about his dad. Believing that the man had walked out on his family would no doubt have filled him with a great deal of anger and bitterness, so it was not particularly surprising that he hadn’t wanted to talk about such a painful episode in his past. Maybe his earlier silence and resistance to her attempts to converse had been because being in this house had brought memories that he would prefer to forget. But no matter how angry he was at his dad, it had been a terrible shock for him to learn that the man the family believed had deserted them had not done so, but instead had been lying in a shallow grave for more than thirteen years, just a few blocks from where they lived.
Keeley was filled with compassion for her friend, his mother and his siblings. They must all be feeling such great pain and confusion from what they had learned today. Life was so uncertain sometimes, she mused. You go along, living your life, and then in an instant everything changes. Life will never be the same for any of them, ever again.