Locust House Variations, A Weekly Fiction Column by Adam Gnade, “The Sudden Disappearance of Lil’ Cassidy Nguyen, Part 1 of 3”

Lil’ Cassidy Nguyen disappeared one day. No calls. No emails. Our friends talked about it incessantly. “Incessantly” is a strong word, a word that leans toward exaggeration, but incessantly is the best way to explain it. Cassidy’s brother Duong filed a missing person’s report three days after she vanished. He called the cops. None of us could take that final step. (Duong could.) “Vanished,” that’s the word our friends used. It’s a word you don’t use often because it has an air of the mystical. Unicorns vanish in a rainbow mist after piercing the frozen heart of the Queen of Snow. Wizards vanish with a swirl of their long-fingered hands. But people? Regular people? Nah, they leave. They split. They skip town. They don’t fuckin’ vanish.

A month later I woke up to a loud, repeated knocking on the door of my apartment late one night—the kind of knock that’s never good. No one knocks on your door at (I checked my oven clock as I shuffled down the hallway from my bedroom) 3am unless something is very wrong or something is about to go wrong.

I shut one eye and looked through the peephole. Cassidy. Yup. The top of Cassidy’s shaved head (because she was in fact lil’) and the smoke from her cigarette trailing up through the dim porch light to obscure my view. Of course I opened the door immediately and of course I was overjoyed and relieved to see her and of course what she had to tell me came as a surprise. (To be continued.)

Adam Gnade

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