so we couldn't see really what the smell was. We hung over the guard rail and parted the screen of branches and there was nothing down there. The smell at that vantage was more like old garbage than death, and we cut ourselves some slack, no need to go verify that this was either runoff from Mount Rumpke, the local landfill operation, or someone's idea of a compost heap.
We spent the next few days coming up with new places to search, meeting up with other unofficial search teams, roaming around contracting poison ivy and chiggers, mostly. There was literally nothing to find. We saw parts of this town that I hadn't found in16 years of living there and looking for places to hide from everyone else who lived there, including my parents. At one point, my sister and I were poking around the woodsy banks of yet another dry creek bed, another party spot hidden under the arched brush, I told her I wished I'd known about all these places when I was a kid. And then I thought-- maybe it's better that I never did.
We stayed for over a week, till my mom was sick of looking at us, till we had run out of places to look, till we couldn't stand another minute of walking eyes to the ground, wondering what exactly we could possibly be looking for. There was nothing. We would run into other searchers, one the family of some kids I'd gone to school with-- their mother had been at my mother's birthday the year before. "I grew up walking up and down this creek," one said, of the run that intersected Groh lane. He had been friends with my brother, but I hadn't seen him since he was 11 or 12. It was hard to accept that that burnt brown, skinny little boy with the mop of dark hair was the same person as this 45 year old dad with the greying goatee. I guess because it meant I was old. I couldn't afford to be old. Not yet.