One thing hasn’t changed, though, and that’s the old house at the end of the street. It’s on the north side, facing south down Lake Street. It’s in much worse repair than it was last time I saw it, when I was here for my parent’s funerals. Most of the windows are broken; almost the entire fence has fallen down, only one post standing, with pieces of the gate dangling from one hinge. So much of the mortar between the bricks has crumbled away it’s a wonder the walls are still standing, and a lot of the shingles are gone. It’s a shame; it was a beautiful house when I was a kid, a gracious old Victorian mansion. That was where my girlfriend lived, my ‘dorable Dora.
We had moved to a house just down Lake Street in August, and when school started, and I went there for the first time. I was in grade two, and that’s where and when I first saw her. She was the prettiest girl in the class, with the most beautiful smile, so wide and welcoming, I lost my heart, then and there. We became good friends, doing our homework together, mostly at her place. I really loved that house, it was so much nicer than ours, everything so rich looking.
Then, just after Christmas when we were in grade seven, they all disappeared. It was thirty years before I found out what had happened. My brother came to see me in Toronto, and he knew. They had been told by Dad not to tell me, because of my deep friendship with Dora. I had wondered at the time why so many police cars were around the place, but Mom said there had been a robbery, and the family were so frightened by it that they just up and moved. I was upset; I thought they could at least have let me say goodbye to ‘dorable Dora, but she said they were just too stunned to think of it.
What my brother told me shook me to the core. How could something so terrible have happened to my Dora? It upset me so much that I broke down and cried. I just couldn’t stop. Tim just held me and murmured inanities until at last I was cried out.
“I always said they should have told you,” he said, “but they were adamant. They said it would be too much for you to bear, you were such a sensitive kid.”
After I wiped my eyes and blew my nose, I asked “Did they ever find out who did it?”
“I don’t know” Tim said. “If you remember, we moved away the following June and Mom and Dad never let us talk about it. I think they followed the news, but they never told Sally, Anne of me if the police found anything.”
“Will you help me find out?” I asked. “It would ease my heart to at least know that much.”
“Yes, I will. I have free time right now. Let’s start at the library looking at old copies of newspapers. I know it was all over them for months, though Mom and Dad burned the papers as soon as they’d read them.”
“Good. Thanks, Tim. Stay here, there’s room, and we can start tomorrow.”
“Right, bright and early. We’ll find a restaurant near the library and take a quick lunch break, and make a day of it.” Tim reached over and squeezed my shoulder. I was glad he was there, and knew he would stick with the search as long as we needed. In my heart, I told Dora I still loved her. That was why I had never married.