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  • Bonnie Randall

It Started With Johnny Gosch

The other day I posted a Facebook status asking for writing prompts, and a friend shot out of the chute within seconds, her reply, a photo. “This place has always creeped me out,” she said, and shared a beachside cottage, bleach-blue with a damp porch warped out of plumb, and a handful of windows cell-like and small, offering no hint of what might be inside— the photo was clearly snapped as the sun cast an angle obscuring all panes from view.

Nonetheless, just by looking at the place you can catch its rank odor; a brackish rot, ripe with mildew.

I examined the cottage for hours, waiting to see how it might inform that place that lives on my insides, from where words erupt sometimes, bottled magic that paint worlds and create people and peril.

There’s been peril in that cottage, I decided, and slowly a story unfurled. Kids and bravado. Dares and danger.

Maybe death.

I am still working on the flesh of prose that will land on plot-bones, but beyond the mere cottage picture, the inspiration for this story seems to also be a hall of mirrors for a rabbit hole I’ve been interred in for over a year now.

Johnny Gosch vanished one morning while he—and several other boys—delivered newspapers in Midwest USA . At the time of his disappearance he and I, a kid far north-west in Canada, were the same age. His story haunted me. Where did he go? Who took him? Why did they take him? How come no one saw? Why did the police insist he—a happy kid, a good kid—just ran away?

Johnny’s was the first face be printed upon thousands of milk cartons—Have You Seen Me?—and his vanishing was ground zero for a tide of other young boys disappearing, most seeming to simply have fallen off the face of this Earth, never to be recovered, and leaving vast mysteries and sorrow in their wake.

My (morbid curiosity? I am a Scorpio, after all) fascination with Johnny Gosch’s disappearance resurged about a year ago, after I stumbled upon an ancient Dateline clip about him on youtube. From there I free-fell, Alice in Wonderland, into a rabbit hole whose endless doors are like a map made in Hell: you cross one threshold (like The Frankiln Cover-Up) and you’re even further up a pyramid populated with an ever-increasing cast of the famous, the notorious, those of heavy political influence, and others who are worshipped as glittering celebrities. The depravity—both explicitly (which is all on record), and also implied—will render you sleepless. The allegations, despicable to the core, are nearly impossible to believe…yet as you research and reference—then cross reference, then research some more—you find your best efforts to refute your own conclusions are far more implausible than what you appear to have uncovered in your search.

Sex Abuse.


Human Trafficking.

Organ Harvesting.

A mysterious—albeit dubious—‘drug’ called Adrenochrome.

The coincidences become mathematically impossible as you stack them up, and you see proof, unbelievable, yet irrefutable, that yes, indeed, some of the most politically influential people in the world, some of the most revered journalists on this planet, some of Hollywood’s shiniest stars….were, once-upon-a-time, in the 1980s, connected to a kid from the Midwest who was just out early one morning with his dog, trying to deliver some newspapers.

Open source. The research is there.

Now consider Jeffrey Epstein. Charges of human sex trafficking. Serial pedophilia. Friendships (and brokering?) to some of the most heavily-worshipped people on the planet.

And guess what else?

If you had a Sharpie and a whiteboard, you could map out a less-than Six-Degrees-Of-Separation from molester-mogul Jeffrey Epstein right back to…


Johnny Gosch.


Maybe the people this world has set on a pedestal actually belong in a pit.

Alright. I’m headed back to my fictional short story—prompted by a dilapidated old cottage, but starting with a lost boy who deserved so much better than what this world gave him. Johnny Gosch.

May he—dead or alive (I happen to think he’s alive)—find some measure of peace on this planet. And may the many who stole him, exploited him, and tortured him, be forced to finally face justice.

Find my paranormal romantic suspense novels HERE:

Divinity & The Python...where deception and desire dance in the dark (Secrets & Shadows, Book I)

Within The Summit's waits within the summit's shadow...but so does murder (Secrets & Shadows Book II)

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