Originally posted on Patreon in October 2018 and part of the Great Patreon Crossposting to WordPress.
This story brought to you by someone introducing me to the Disappearance of Bobby Dunbar – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disappearance_of_Bobby_Dunbar~*~
“The boy was confused.”
In the years to come, that would be said more than any other phrase in relation to the Bobby Dagmar case.
It was also both the most accurate and, considering how it was used, the least correct.
They would also say that he had hit his head, temporarily suffering thus from severe nearsightedness and hearing loss. They had the symptoms correct in this case, but not the cause.
But what nobody ever quite could answer was why neither potential mother — Mrs. Dagmar nor the woman who claimed the boy was Jules Whittier — recognized the boy until they bathed him.
The noise, the lights, the sensation of want and the conflicting clash of iron everywhere, it did indeed confuse the boy, blurring his vision and stopping his ears.
Make them happy; give them what they want. Those had been his orders. So he smiled a little at the brother of Bobby Dagmar and was shy with the mother, but he recognized them. He had been built for them, after all.
But he didn’t understand, couldn’t quite follow, what the mother wanted, not at first. Not until the bath, where the iron tub blocked out all other wants but hers. After that, she would never again doubt — not unless he was gone from her side for a long time — that he was her son returned
Unfortunately, Bobby Dagmar was not the only boy to go missing, gone swimming in the depths of Swale Lake and not come out, and Jules Whittier’s mother also wanted her chance to identify her son.
The boy had not been given directives to make one mother happy and the other not, so he also gave her what she wanted, in the iron of the tub where there was no interference. There, under the water, she could count his moles and identify him as Jules Whittier.
The boy would go home with the Dagmars, and thus Sarah Whittier would have more doubts about the boy than Mrs. Dagmar. But he would send her letters, from time to time, because she wanted them, and so she would harbor a hope to the end of her days.
Bobby Dagmar was a good son; he was a good brother. Later in life, he was a good husband, a good father, and a good employee. He was, as the phrase goes, a people-pleaser, and everyone noted that he was always very good at knowing what people wanted.
When he could no longer stand it, when he needed to be released from all the wants for some time, Bobby would go up into the master bathroom with a bottle of fine faerie whisky, and he would soak himself until nothing but his nose was above water. Then he would towel off and go back to being a good husband, a good son. A good father, a good employee.
When the body that had lived as Bobby Dagmar faded and passed – earlier than many, and chalked up to liver failure – he was buried with all honors. His family wept over him. His children lauded him; his grandchildren sang songs for him.
And in Faerie, the Queen looked at a young man, just at the peak of life, as he had been since he was allowed to reach that age some forty years past, and smiled sadly. “Time to go, I’m afraid. But look.”
The family was having a picnic at Swale Lake, commemorating the time their grandfather had almost been lost. And standing on the dock, about to dive in, was a boy of maybe thirteen who looked a great deal like his grandfather.
“They made me a replacement. Wasn’t that nice?”Want more?