Jeanette McKinney was a lonely widow in her early fifties. After her youngest had left home, she lost that extra zeal she always had had. She was the mother of four. Three were living; one was dead along with her husband in a car accident several years earlier. Even when she recieved the news that her husband, Robert, and her oldest daughter, Trina, were killed by a drunk driver, she managed to keep going and put on a brave face. She had to. She still had three children at home. It was a horrible time, but she managed to keep the kids interested in their own lives, and not overly dwell on the loss of their father and older sister.
Trina was a month away from her high school graduation in 2005, when she asked her dad for a ride up to the dress shop. The shop had just called and her Prom dress was ready to be picked up. They never made it there. While stopping for a yellow light, a drunk driver behind them sped up to trying to make the light before it turned red. He rear ended them, pushing their vehicle into the intersection where a semi-truck smashed into the side of their car. Robert died instantly. Trina was comatose four of the longest days in Jeanette's memory before she passed on.
Robert McKinney Jr., or Bobby as the family affectionately called him, had always been a bookworm. The death of older sister and father was disheartening, but did not disrupt his education. He graduated top of his class the following year and won a scholarship to Michigan State.
In 2007, James Arthur McKinney, a good student but not scholarship material, graduated and went directly into the army. His father had served during the Viet Nam conflict, and went to college afterwards on the government dime. Jimmy wanted to follow in dad's footsteps. Jeanette was proud of her soldier son, and was happy that so far he had only been stationed stateside and Germany. She worried about the possibility of his going to war, yet was determined to stand by Jimmy even if he opted to go Iraq or Afghanastan. Which, as it went, seemed very possible because Jimmy would talk about the "honor" of giving your life for you country, and if he was sent to war, he would relish the opportunity. Thank God he hadn't volunteered for a war zone yet.
The last to leave the nest was Sandra, Robert's choice for the name because of his secret desire to bed Sandra Bullock. When Sandy was born, Jeanette knew why he wanted her to have the named Sandra, but never let on. Jeanette knew that Sandra Bullock would never take away her husband, so she let him keep his pipe dream and went along naming their fourth child Sandra. Sandy had joined the work force while she was 15 years old. She had always had a knack with computers and designing web pages. She had designed web pages for all her friends and shortly after her 15th birthday, she was given her first commission by a local super market. Then her web designs went to being in total demand. Because of the work she took on, she rarely had free time all through her high school years. By the time she graduated in 2010, she was making close to $100,000 a year. Sun Microsystems recruited her while she was in high school, flew her out west the week after her graduation, and started her in their managementorial program. Her starting salary was $250,000 a year. That was over double what Jeanette collected from Robert's Life Insurance policy to raise three children on for five years.
Bobby had earned a degree in economics while simutaneously courting, and finally, marrying Marilyn Marzak. They newlyweds moved to the other side of the state where Bobby took a job teaching at a community college while working on his Masters degree. They were barely married a month when Bobby called Jeanette to inform her she was to become a grandmother. Jeanette suddenly understood the rush into marriage. The day before Christmas in 2009, Jeanette indeed became a grandmother. Robert McKinney II was born. Jeanette couldn't understand why the baby was referred to as the second when he was actually the third Robert McKinney. Bobby tried to explain that the baby was the second Robert named after his father. Bobby was the first but called junior and his son would be the second. Jeanette pretended to understand, but she really did not. The real important thing was that she had a grandson. This turned out to be bittersweet. Because Bobby's job was in Muskegon, it was very seldom that she could see her grandson. In fact, she had to travel to Muskegon to visit the baby, because his parents could not find coinciding times that they both had free to travel to Warren. Jeanette thought that if Marilyn was from Warren and not Muskegon, they would be in the neighborhood every weekend. It was an unkind thought, but Jeanette never voiced it.
On the last Sunday of May, 2011, Jeanette McKinney had spent the day phoning friends and watching soap operas on tv. Her breakfast was toast and coffee, she had a sandwich and a fruit salad for lunch, and her dinner was a small portion of spaghetti and half a can of french-style green beans. She finished watching the 6 o'clock news and decided it was time to do the dishes. She always waited until after her last meal before doing all the day's dishes. She hated washing one dish, so she suffered seeing dirty dishes until she was certain no more would be added. Jeanette had a dishwasher but hadn't used it since Sandy moved out. It was easier to wash the few plates and glasses by hand.
She put the stopper in the drain of the left sink, squirted a splash of detergent, and adjusted the water to be hot but tolerable. As she waited the sink to fill, she looked out the window in front of her. Her neighbor, Bartram Colby, was standing in his drive staring at the back of her house. She put her face closer to the window to angle her vision in hopes of seeing what he was looking at. She couldn't see a thing. She followed his line of sight as far as possible and realized that he was gaping at her bedroom window. Her sink was full and she turned off the water. Jeanette then walked down the hall to her bedroom.
Her drapes were closed tight. Bartram could not be looking into her room. She went back to the kitchen sink and looked out the window over at Bartram again. He was transfixed to the spot. What was he staring at? She repositioned the spout over the right sink and turned on luke warm water. Her hands went into the soapy water and pulled up a plate. She used a sponge to wipe the dish down, then rinse, and place the dish in the drying rack. The whole time her eyes stayed on her neighbor. Is he alright? I hope he's not having some kind of seizure.
She had just completed doing the dishes when Bartram suddenly looked her way. Their eyes met and he waved. Her hand returned the wave out of reflex. She watched as he then bolted towards his house. What in the hell was that all about?
Jeanette dried her hands and went back into the living room. She watched tv until she started getting tired. She got up from her chair, turned off the tv, clicked off the lamp and went into her bedroom. When she turned on the overhead light, she once again thought of Bartram staring at this window. She went over to the curtains and peaked out. She saw nothing outside. She went over to her bed and pulled from under her pillow her night gown. When she had donned her sleeping attire, she shut off the light and went to bed. She did not notice that she had left her bedroom curtains slightly open.