I rode in the back of Peter’s squad car to a dark old fraternity house on the edge of Greek Row. He led me into the darkened heart of the cavernous home which still smelled faintly like rotten beer and vomit until I was in a living room gazing upon easels which looked like something I had seen in cop/crime shows before.
He walked me over to the first easel which simply consisted of pictures of young, smiling, men, all of whom looked a lot like the young men I had been mixing with all night around the town.
“These are the faces I am trying to help,” Peter started in as I took in the 25 or so different grins. “Well, not just them, their families more so. All these guys are dead. The dead sons of Wisconsin I like to call them. Most were from Madison, but some are from Oshkosh, Whitewater, Eau Claire, a couple here and there from Minnesota, Illinois, but mostly Wisconsin. All washed up in rivers, lakes, officially listed causes of death range from exposure, alcohol poisoning and mostly commonly, drowning. All written off as accidents. College guys who got too drunk, wandered off on cold nights and fell into bodies of water or froze out in the woods. But that’s not what everyone thinks.”
Peter flipped the easel, revealing a board equally occupied with pictures as the first side, but instead of smiling faces, it was pale, bloated bodies, most washed up on the side of bodies of water. I gagged with the taste of stale beer and nasty shots in the back of my throat.
“They’re the perfect victims. They aren’t the missing blonde girls splashed all over the news who everyone demands justice for. They are just dumb jocks everyone forgets about the day after they hear what happened to them. No one asks questions.”
“Why are you working on this?” I muttered. “Seems awful.”
Peter was always one of the best students in my school and I thought he had went off to the CIA or FBI, so I was pretty shocked he was puttering around in a drunken college down in the frozen fields of Wisconsin, just a short drive from our dog shit hometown.
Peter flipped the easel back over and pointed out a vaguely familiar-looking face with longish blonde hair that perfectly fell upon his face to convey he just didn’t give the perfect amount of fucks.
“Do you remember Ricky?”
Holy shit. I remembered Ricky now.
“Your brother,” I barely whispered.
Peter flipped the easel back over to the frozen bodies.