Author's Commentary, Page 2

The beginning of the piece is also peripherally intended as social commentary. My younger character is portrayed as being very bright yet seemingly incredibly naive; practically walking right into his abductor's trap. This might seem—at first glance—to be a poor characterization on my part. Yet, it isn't. There is nothing atypical about this particular kid, at least in that repsect, in his social environment.

It is impossible to impress upon younger people today how radically matters have changed from those times. In many ways, times have changed for the better. In many other ways, they have not. We have lost much.

The schoolyard where the abduction takes place actually exists. The brief conversation in German with a stranger seeking directions actually happened. The hidden clearing in the park also exists, or once did.

I feel as though the dialogue in the story is superior to the narration. I prided myself on its realism, and I spent a day with a twelve-year-old boy and his father to study the boy's vocabulary and speech patterns, adjusting slightly for environmental differences between the boys.

Some of what I consider to be the best dialogue was actually spoken once upon a time. The boy's remark concerning Houdini, the abductor's clever retort, the boy holding his hands in front of his face as if seeing them for the first time, all came from an actual incident at that age. So did the youthful mangling of the word "touche'."

Even the boy wiping and drying a tear from another's face stems from a painful experience of another child.

As Cromwell insisted while having his portroit painted, I tried to present the character as realistically as possible, warts and all. He was impulsive and he could be a brat and was self-centered at times, which I'm certain he now deeply regrets.

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