Sunday, September 13, 2015
Naomi, by Christopher Rice
Full disclosure: I have a story in this collection of Poe-inspired tales.
You could argue that this piece is fantasy or horror, not a mystery. And you'd be right. But a wise man (me) once pointed out that there seems to be an affinity between mysteries and ghost stories, that does not exist with vampire, zombie, etc. stories.
Besides, this is a tale of crime and revenge, which seems to be right in our wheelhouse. But enough special pleading.
Franklin, the narrator, is tormented by the recent death of his niece. Naomi, a transsexual woman, was bullied by other students at her high school and committed suicide.
Reporters wait outside the family house and demand: Mr. Franklin, did you do enough to help your niece? He doesn't respond, although he longs to say, at least you stopped calling her Nathan.
Now other students from the school have killed themselves. Copycats, is the community's first thought. Then: they were the bullies and they did it out of guilt.
But Franklin, a gay man who attended the same school, is convinced that kids like that never feel guilt or remorse. So what - or who - is causing their deaths?
The answer? Well, let's say this is a thoroughly modern ghost story, and a very good one.