No Place Safe
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Between 1979 and 1981, twenty-nine children disappeared from the streets of Atlanta. In this compelling memoir, Kim Reid grows up in the shadow of her mother's job as an investigator on the Missing and Murdered Children case. Thirteen-year-old Kim Reid will never forget the summer of 1979. When she isn't thinking about boys, makeup, and starting high school in the fall, she's busy taking care of her little sister while her single mom works as a cop. By midsummer, the discovery of two murdered teens along a quiet Atlanta road changes everything. School starts again, but having fewer kids on the streets doesn't stop the killer. More children disappear, silently vanishing from the skating rink and sidewalks she regularly visits, and Kim soon learns there is no place safe. When her mother is assigned to a special task force created to solve the murders, bringing her work home and becoming preoccupied with her increasingly high-profile job, Kim feels life unraveling. It becomes increasingly difficult to straddle two worlds: her neighborhood not far from where several victims are found, and her wealthy private school where she feels removed from the danger. Teetering on the brink between girl and woman, Kim is torn between fitting in and finding her own voice; between becoming strong and clinging to the last traces of her childhood.
appropriately, the middle ground—not as dangerous as the back, not as pathetic as the front. The back was the domain of juvenile delinquents or future inmates, hustling card players, and folks who normally wouldn’t sit back there but are forced to when there are no other seats left. Depending on the route, I would see people stand rather than go to the back. I was never that pitiful. My preference was somewhere between the front and back doors on the route from downtown to home. On the route
they were released from the last class of the day. And as strange as my behavior was, it still didn’t hold more interest than whatever plans they had for Friday night and the weekend beyond. When the bell rang, they all rushed from the room, leaving me there staring at the teacher. I still wasn’t sure why I hadn’t followed the herd, but I guessed it could be the voices of my friends from work still playing in my head. That’s some fucked-up thinking. “Don’t you have another class to get to,
reluctant to move forward with anything less than a tight case. Eventually a compromise was made. To try a homicide case, a suspect need only be arrested for a single murder. On June 21, 1981, Wayne Williams was arrested in the Missing and Murdered Children case, charged with murdering Nathaniel Cater, who had been a grown man and not a child at all. Chapter Twenty-nine My mother didn’t need me as much after the arrest. There were no more Missing and Murdered Children crime scenes, no
still holding back because it was part of her job as a cop or as a mother, I wasn’t sure which. I thought maybe she didn’t need me at all. There was more film on the courthouse steps that didn’t include Ma, more pictures of crying mothers, pulled from two-year-old footage in case we’d forgotten how painful it had been. The news anchor announced that a jury had convicted Wayne Williams on two counts of murder in the cases of Nathaniel Cater and Jimmy Ray Payne. Then Ma began to cry right in front
Every summer he returned, as if circling the branches and trunk with shallow holes was a pilgrimage. Our world was quiet except for the bird, and the occasional tiny thud of shiny red magnolia seeds falling from grenade-looking pods. It was at least a month too early in the season for the seeds to be falling, and I briefly wondered what omen my grandmother might read into it. We focused on our card game and didn’t talk about how the humidity pressed down on us like a shroud, because that would