Victor heard the phone ringing its two-short-and-one-long ring. It was about 6pm.
“Victor Stainton speaking,” he answered efficiently.
When he heard the tone of voice on the other end of the line, he knew immediately that it was shocking news.
“We’re coming over,” said Police Officer van der Merwe.
Shortly thereafter, there was a knock at the door.
“You had better sit down,” the police officer said. Victor sat in the nearest chair.
“I’m afraid there’s been an accident involving Jeanette. She hit a cow that was crossing the road.”
“Is she all right?”
“The news is not... ” Van der Merwe hesitated, “...good. She’s been killed.”
“What do you mean?” Victor had trouble keeping his tears under control.
“She was killed. I’m really sorry,” Van der Merwe said.
He was distraught. It wasn’t her fault, he maintained. Victor had discovered that she had been driving perfectly well in the fading light, on the correct side, when she hit a cow wandering across the road. Jeanette was killed when the horns pierced her chest. She bled to death.
She had been alone in the car. Tragically, the ambulance arrived there 30 minutes after the accident. Still, she died, despite every effort to save her. The cow died, too.
After losing his wife, and ignorant of the fiery truck crash down in the valley near Eshowe, it became Victor’s life’s mission to track down his son, Mike. He’d heard that the Retiefs had left for Eshowe, Zululand, via Durban.
He had gone to Eshowe, asking for them. After many days, he had been just about to abandon his search when came across a woman who seemed to know something.
The woman told him that a boy and girl had survived a crash. Victor asks: “Do you know what the boy’s name was, or is?”
The lady answered: “I think it was Jack, Jake or Jako. I’m not sure.”
“Not Mike, his brother?”
“Who’s Mike? I’ve not heard of him.”
“And the girl? What is her name? Kate-Emily?” Victor probed.
“Yes. I believe she died at the orphanage.”
The woman left. She had no more to say.