The Gravity of What Has Gone (14)

Naomi rescued me. “Did you owe someone money?”

“No!” Mr. Hansen snarled.

“Fine. Go ahead. Help these kid-snatching extortionists so you don’t have to talk about your gambling or your drugs or your hookers or whatever you threw that money away on. As long as you’re not embarrassed.

Melanie stared at the floor, apparently practiced in making herself invisible when adults were fighting.

“Cocaine,” her father said at last.

I coughed and fumbled in my coat pocket. “Melanie, if I show you a picture, can you tell me if that’s the same boy or not?”

She nodded.

I pulled out the photo and my heart sank. The squinting boy in the picture, nestled against a mother forcing her smile through exhaustion and worry, looked nothing like the tall young man who’d appeared in my house. I handed it over anyway.

She shook her head. “No. This is a little kid.”

I nodded, defeated.

She handed it back. “Her.”


“The sad eyes. That’s how his eyes were. He didn’t look like that little kid. He looked like that lady.”

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