There was a tiny shack of a house next door to our home in Hammond. It was a rental unit, and tenants came and went frequently. One year, a mother moved in with her three pubescent kids, a girl and two boys ranging from 12 – 15 in age. It was 2003, and these kids were different, like from another time. They would have been shoe-ins for a reboot of Little House on the Prairie. The girl had long red hair that she kept in two long braids and the boys looked sun-kissed and corn fed. All summer long, they would get up early, do their chores, and start playing in the field that was their backyard, running races, skipping races, rolling a hula hoop along the length of the yard. They’d eat lunch on a blanket in the grass and look for pictures in the clouds for hours. They were out there all day until their mom came home from work.
Early one Sunday morning, Tom and I were reading and relaxing in the living room when there was a knock at the door. It was the older boy from next door. He looked startled and asked if he could use our phone. Tom asked what was going on, and the boy said he would rather not say. Tom told him that he could not use the phone unless he told us what had happened. “I was trying to shoot an apple off of my brother’s head, and I missed.” We ran over to the window to see the younger boy sitting very still with an arrow through his neck and an apple on the ground next to him.