I Will Always Remember the Day My Cousin Vanished

Growing up in Hollywood, Ellen Jane Hover and I were first cousins; she was like a second little sister to me. Our homes were blocks apart on the quiet streets of Beverly Hills, where homes were draped with bougainvillea vines, and movie stars were our neighbors, picking their newspapers off their dewy lawns just like everyone else. Our fathers were brothers-in-law: mine, a neurosurgeon; hers, the owner of Ciro’s, the most glamorous nightclub in town. Back then, at age 8, I assigned myself the role of Ellen’s mentor and entertainer. I hid Snow White figurines in the palm fronds by her swimming pool, and I smiled as she discovered them, wide-eyed and delighted. I created a monthly paper-clip-bound magazine named Magazette, just for her. Ours was a very fortunate life in a very innocent world. 

Ellen, a serene, brown-haired girl, had her swarthy father’s dark eyes and her showgirl mother’s delicate lips, high cheekbones, and long legs. Striking beauty lay in her future. She looked up to me, her cheerfully bossy older cousin; she believed that all I said was so. Little girls are sweet almost by definition, but Ellen was especially—almost heartbreakingly—sweet. Her sweetness was a trait you sensed was permanent, an odd purity within what would become a rocky family. Everyone who met her sensed her trusting heart. I’m sure her killer sensed it too.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button