by Joshua Miles

Now that’s a provocative title that seems sensationalist and fabricated. It conjures up associations of circles of crack-pot conspiracy theories, and entertainment shows like Unsolved Mysteries on the boob-tube, or maybe even slightly more seriously the books and documentary series Missing 411.

Yet, it’s a fact according to the government’s NamUs Database: “Over 600,000 individuals go missing in the United States every year.” That’s a staggering amount.

But do they just disappear into thin air, a work of Hollywood cinema like the disappearance of the audience performed in the movie The Amazing Burt Wonderstone? No, not literally, of course, but often the occurrence is so without a warning, without a sound, with no big scream or bang, like the dog that did nothing in the night-time in the Sherlock Holmes mystery story “Silver Blaze.” It’s more of a case of expectations and ritual; many persons are said to have “vanished into thin air” because their disappearance was wholly unexpected and left no clues as to their whereabouts.

Who is to say what has become of missing persons if they are never found nor evidence ever discovered?

Oh sure, there are conjectures and speculative theories passed off as facts, and arguably to be discounted as sensationalized works of fiction. What is untestable cannot be stated as theory or even a fact of law, with no first-hand testimony of the formerly living or known witnesses to rely upon.

It is generally either assumed that there was foul play or they simply left or got lost. But one explanation does not always fit better than the others. Possibly they are living somewhere else, under an alias, maybe even in a different country. Possibly kidnapped, or murdered, or suicide. I sure don’t speculate on any one answer as being more probable. It is not so easy to say with finality one way or another even with some input. A guess could be totally wrong. So you just try everything you can to find a record of them somewhere, anywhere.

All questions and answers remain in speculative limbo, and often ever-after.

Yet, those left behind hold out hope there will be some kind of communication, a sign, or clue, or breadcrumbs to follow, evidence of the phenomenon of their passing, albeit instead it seems an instance of whether an object continues to exist if it cannot be perceived, as in “if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear, it does it make a sound?”

Just think if it was someone you loved. Through that aperture of the door to their home they stepped, yawning and framing them like a picture as they parted, then closing its shutter and taking them…somewhere else of which no one knows.

You would naturally desire answers. So many questions begging answers, none forthcoming.

The door remains ajar and their image stands in it, gone, yet not gone, an undeveloped image of the result –sudden still frame; time of truths slow exposure; obscure and out of focus. Whatever could have happened is nothing ever more than a vague faded outline in your mind.

You might never shut the doors to your heart and mind and return to living without them there until you knew they were never reentering those rooms.

The truth seems to be that until they return or God-forbid, remains are found one may never know of the secret fate of a loved one; forever beseeching the burning the silent stars to no avail. Now you stand in the dark afterimage of that open door, that will shadow your mind with nagging doubts, with only the mementos of loss, and a memory of a person you loved taking leave without giving farewell.

In future articles, we will be narrowing into this, shall we say, sort of “non-phenomena”, and related subjects with a lean to an anecdotal perspective on interpersonal relationships, and developing into a first-hand account on the frantic process of searching for someone when every second wasted makes you feel their chance for survivability will cross the point of no return, if –gulp- it has not already.