He'd done an uninspired job of trying to remain as obscure. I spoke to the old man and he'd imagined as much another person being the motive. Why it seemingly took him so long to come to a conclusion I'd realized after half a day of investigating was something I puzzled over for a good while. But looking back it was to be expected, that same type of bulwark of things considered the more I got to know the family.

The son was distant, a real dreaming-into-the-middle distance type. But in that affected way that can be insufferable if you didn't know him too well. I'd never met the guy, but that's the impression I'd gathered after about six weeks and through the little scenarios the father and cousin would sketch out for me. “He lacked responsibilities,” the father averred. “Too much free time and frittering with strange people.” He'd said this bedside to the cousin, still recovering, and the room went still at his mention.

There was a change in him leading up to the incident, according to the father. On the week of the dispatch, the son was focused, upright. He seemed eager to travel when usually he would complain from the outset about how much he was aching to be home.

On behalf of the mother, I would review and compile surveillance footage: traffic stop CCTV, ATM micro-cams. At one point I wanted to quip that it was hard to read someone's level of vivacity through a fish-eye lens on a street corner, or in front of a passing storefront. He looked in his posture as stolid as I would expect from what I'd heard. Oftentimes disheveled and doubling back in another direction as if he was uncaring of his destination. Apparently the change was to be found in his gaze, the father told me, ironically how much it was “less like he wanted to leave.”

The mother has recently started to allow me to read select pages from his journals in order to find out to whom he was writing in the weeks leading. They seem less like coherent passages and more like collections of quotes from books he had read, or random ideas to be hashed out at a later time. I opened up the first journal she presented to me and the quote that caught my eye was telling: “Nobody even imagines how well one can lie about the state of one’s own heart. -Y.M.”

I informed the mother that it'd be another six weeks at the very least.