Father Spencer decided a phone call was improper to the Lollars and decided to take a plane into Hartford and rent a car and drive the twenty miles or so it was to Madison. The death of someone like Bob Lollar deserved, no demanded, more than just a phone call.
He took a morning flight from Midway and arrived in Hartford at little past noon. He hopped in his rented Mercury Sable and followed the easy directions to get onto I-91 south. He passed through the skyline of Hartford and could see the gold dome of the State Capitol off to his right. He traveled past Wethersfield, Rocky Hill, Cromwell, and Middletown until he got to exit 17, East Main St., Madison, and got off the interstate. He stopped at the Darby's Gulf station and got directions to the Lollar’s home. It was now almost 1PM.
He pulled up into the driveway and found an older woman pulling weeds from the flower bed to the right of the front steps. It must be Mary he thought. Coming down the driveway was a portly gentleman pushing what looked like an empty wheel barrow with a shovel hanging out to one side. This must be Gus.
Father Spencer exited the car, walked around, starting up the front walkway.
Mr. and Mrs. Lollar," inquired Father? I am Father Spencer from Moody Institute.
Gus had made his way over to where Mary had been working. She was now standing, brushing the dirt from her hands, and then wiping them on her garden apron.
"Hello, Father" said Mary with a loving smile on her face. "This is my husband, Gus, Bob's father." The men shook hands.
"Could we go inside," asked Father Spencer. "I need to talk to you."
"Sure, come on in,” replied Gus. "Let's go inside."
Gus placed his hand warmly on Father’s shoulder as he ushered him up the few steps leading into the house. Mary followed.
"Would you like some lemonade, or soda," asked Mary?
"No," replied Father Spencer, "this is not a social call, I'm afraid."
"Bob not doing well in school," asked Gus. "You know, Mary, I thought Bob might have a little trouble at first getting back into studying after almost four years in the military."
Father looked into his hands he was wringing on his lap. Mary sensed immediately it was more than that.
"Father, what is it," asked Mary. "Is Bob all right?"
"I'm afraid not," responded Father Spencer, stumbling through the words. "Your son was murdered last night at a basketball game. It appears to be a drug-related commando style attack. Bob was just one of the over twenty innocent bystanders who were killed. I can't tell you how sorry I am. There was no way I could just call and tell you such terrible news."
Mary and Gus were both so stunned neither could speak. Gus put his arm around Mary as she pulled a small hanky from her dress and began to wipe away the tears that were beginning to form.
"Gus, do you know where Becky went off to with Dave," Mary asked? "We have to tell her right away. We have to call the Pastor and get him started making the funeral arrangements," Mary rambled on. "Gus, you'll have to go to Chicago and pick up the body I suppose, right Father," asked Mary, allowing the peripheral issues to overtake her immediate release of grief.
"Mary, I can take care of that for you if you would like," offered Father Spencer. "You will have enough to deal with back here. If you let me know what funeral home you will be using I will take it from there."
"That's very nice of you, Father," said Mary. "If you will excuse me I think I would like to go lie down for a while," said Mary as she rose. She extended her hand to Father and clasped it warmly.
"Thanks for coming all this way. It means a lot to me and Gus." Mary walked slowly down the hall to her room. You could hear the door close behind her.
"Gus, I am terribly sorry to have to bring you this news," said Father. He made his way toward the front door.
"You know Father," said Gus, "we just never worried about Bob this way. All that time in the service, Bob flying planes and all, we just never worried about his getting killed or even hurt. Maybe we just thought if we ignored the danger nothing would happen to him. It wasn't so much or faith, just that Bob always seemed so invincible I guess."
"I think we all feel that way that WE can never be the victim," replied Father. "Unfortunately, this was totally senseless. Your son was truly a class young man. He will be terribly missed."
"Thank you Father, that is nice of you to say," said Gus.
"I can tell you he would have made a great Pastor," added Father. "I am sure of that."
He shook Gus' hand and made his way back to the car. He had given his card to Gus and told him to have the Funeral home contact him directly. He promised to let Gus know all the details that were worked out.
He made his way back to Bradley Airport and boarded his return flight to Chicago. It was probably a good thing Father Spencer didn't drink. He sure would be on this return flight home.
He sat in his window seat and began browsing through the Hartford Courant newspaper brought by the flight attendant. He turned to page two and found highlights of the national news. A small news brief that read: AP, Chicago. A drug-related commando-style attack claimed the lives of over twenty-five last night in the city suburbs.
Father Spencer folded the paper quietly in his lap. He starred out the window. The flight attendant came back by.
"Father, can I get you something else to read," she inquired.
"Yes," he replied, never taking his eyes from the window. "That would be a good idea."