The Boy Vanishes
Jennifer Haigh's short story "The Boy Vanishes" is a keen re-imagining of a whodunit in which everyone is implicated and no one is safe. In the summer of 1976, the search for a missing boy takes over the beach town of Grantham, Massachusetts. It’s a searing portrait of a community in crisis.
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Over the New Year’s weekend, I binge-watched Netflix’s 10-part documentary series “Making a Murderer,” which follows the remarkable case of Steven Avery—a man wrongfully convicted of rape and released after 18 years, only to be rearrested and convicted of murder.
My parents are practical people, conventional in their thinking. They raised me with the usual ideas about good and evil. One was easily attainable if you obeyed the Commandments, flossed daily and followed the Golden Rule. The other stemmed from exotic temptations the average person didn’t have to worry about.
The tribute was held downtown, far away from the theater district. Christine crossed the street gingerly, on four-inch heels thin as pencils—Ivan had always loved women in high heels—and checked the address against the invitation in her purse.
It’s always like this: the sun, the endless road construction, the rest stops for cigarettes and sodas and trips to the bathroom. Kip steers his Jeep around the orange pylons, then speeds up once the construction is past, bouncing in and out of potholes on the Massachusetts Turnpike. Jean-Luc sits beside him. In the back Fanelli flips through a box of CDs, blocking Kip’s rear view with his large head.
“Claire of the Moon” tells the story of a little girl who can't tolerate the sun and the adults who try to shield her or to let her bask in its reflection.
Carolyn and her husband are our friends, couple friends. Our evenings together go like this: Carolyn and Reuben arrive late in the afternoon, stopping first for wine and dessert at the gourmet store in Ybor City, the old Cuban section of town. They park their Jeep in our driveway and Carolyn whistles for Buck, our black Lab. When I open the door, Reuben is standing on the porch with a cardboard dessert box, impeccably dressed, smelling pleasantly of cologne.
I met my aunt Melanie in the summer of 1974, an August of high bright days, so dry that my father had to oil our front lane to keep the dust down. I was fifteen, midway through high school and deadened by its sameness. I could scarcely remember what had preceded it, or begin to imagine what might follow.