August 31st
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I drove to the address Jake’s old neighbor gave me. When I pulled up, all I saw was a burned-up house. The walls were intact, but they were scarred by flames and blackened by smoke. The roof was caved in. The windows were busted, probably by firefighters. They gaped like gouged-out eyes.

I stumbled out of the car, thinking Jake had killed himself. Did he burn himself alive in there?

Then, I heard something. There was a knocking sound from somewhere behind the remains of the house. As I walked toward the backyard, I saw clothes and broken furniture spread across the overgrown lawn. There were fast food wrappers and other trash. Then, I was hit with the stench of urine and shit, and gagged when I saw a pile of turds in a spot of dead yellow grass.

When I came to the...

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