Word Count: 88,000
Two tragedies, two decades apart. When his father is accused of an unthinkable crime, Francis must revisit a 23-year-old murder trial to locate a missing child today—and get justice for one of the past.
My brother drowned in a bathtub that was less than one foot longer than he was tall. It was a typical, vintage, roll-rim clawfoot tub with chipped paint, slippery sides, and an air of undeserved elegance.
Morbidly enough, it was also the deciding factor in my parents’ decision to purchase our home a decade earlier.
“But there’s no shower,” my father had said as we stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the realtor in the bathroom doorframe.
My mother was pregnant with Lucas at the time, and she placed one hand on her bulging stomach while she held my hand with the other.
“I know, Alex, but think about the baths.” She made the face she sometimes made when she bit into something sweet, like a piece of chocolate, and I could see my father’s shoulders sag. The decision had been made.
That my little brother would drown in that very tub just nine years later seemed, at best, a terrible coincidence, and at worst, an inevitable twist of fate that was sealed the day we all locked eyes on that porcelain, shower-less beast.
Lucas was small for his age, and still, the accident was, in almost every respect, impossible. “Freakishly contorted,” was the not-quite-clinical-enough phrase I heard the medical examiner,
Dr. R. Rudolph Smith, III from two suburbs over, use to describe the body when he responded to our home that night in the brutal Chicago winter of 1992.
I remember Rudy’s face, paunch and reddened, as he stood there with a swab in his gloved hand, his eyes glued to my brother’s body, that very sight which would wholly define my life moving forward.