Nine years ago, my grandmother stopped hearing from Stefan. My mother and I were vacationing with her other brother’s family in Shanghai at the time and my mother and Alex and his wife Louise sat me down and explained, my uncle was missing and I wasn’t to tell my cousins.
I said nothing.
Almost a full month later, my father picked me up from school and took me home to my mother’s. She was there waiting — unusual.
Then she told me he was dead.
As she broke down crying next to me, I let her hold me and I might have cried too. I was shocked and not shocked, at the same time.
Later, I watched a Dutch news report on my grandmother’s laptop about a John Doe with a mermaid tattoo. Parts of the story of my uncle’s demise were filled in. A stranger had been walking his dog through the park and found Stefan’s body three days after the incident. He’d been shot in the head by his neighbour from Thailand, a man who owed him over $100, 000 and who obviously didn’t want to pay it back.
He’s in jail now, I think.