Charlie looked across the street. His widower father, Daniel, was waiting for him in his battered, old car. It pained Charlie to see his father's face painted with lines drawn by years of grief and hardship. His hair was gray, his eyes moist with tears and shoulders hunched from years of hard labor on a factory assembly line.
Daniel slowly opened the driver's door, swung out his legs and pushed his weary body up to a standing position. Ignoring the barbed wire atop the chainlink fence behind his son, he walked across the street and embraced his son with the love only a father understands.
"Charlie, my son, it's time to come home. Let's go home."
Eight months later, Charlie received the settlement from his wrongful imprisonment lawsuit and bought a small house deep in the woods at 369 Whispering Pine Lane. He began his on-line bachelor degree in sociology. His father moved in with him, kept busy in the workshop and helped maintain the house.
Winter arrived early that year. Rainstorms became a daily affair. The drenching rain created deep mud puddles, slippery pathways and swollen creeks. Severe winds tore at the magnificent old trees surrounding the house. The father and son spent the wintry evenings watching their favorite television programs and movies.
One day in February, the "Daily Times" newspaper reported:
"Last night, two thousand people were without power due to a tree falling on power lines and a house at 369 Whispering Pine Lane. Occupants of the house did not survive."