Most people don’t know there’s a poor section of Beverly Hills. Surrounding the community are apartment buildings where families often double and triple up. Jesus was 8. He lived with his parents and brother, his aunt and uncle and their three children. His father was a gardener, hired onto a crew on Rodeo Drive. Jesus was enrolled in Beverly Elementary School.  And that’s how he came to be invited to Conner’s birthday party, a pool party, on a lush estate on upper Roxford Drive.

Beverly Hills is everything you’d imagine. Driving on Sunset the smells of orange blossoms and orchids are the first things to strike you. Behind thick hedges, glimpses of old Hollywood money, large Spanish homes and Tudor mansions. Following a tree-lined avenue up into the hills, there seems to be no reason to leave, to go back to wherever you came from. Except that you don’t belong there.

Jesus was excited about the party. His first invitation from a classmate. Conner’s mother had instructed the housekeeper to keep the children by the pool. She didn’t need kids running through the house. She had even waited to have the pool cleaned until next week. She and her friends reclined on lounge chairs, drinking wine and keeping an eye on the kids.

Jesus was having a blast. He loved jumping in and out of the water. He’d gotten new swim trunks for the party. But the trunks were big, blossoming out over his skinny legs and he had to clutch the waist band so they wouldn’t slip. He didn’t care. His teeth chattered while he and the other boys watched Conner opened his gifts. Then, back in the pool.

Around 4 o’clock, Jesus’ father parked his pick up truck out front. He admired the landscaping- the sweeping lawn, the newly planted beds. He’d like to work for a family like this. Only a few boys were still in the backyard- sitting at the edge of the pool.

That’s when they realized Jesus was gone. Conner’s mother looked confused, then annoyed. They searched the house, the grounds. They peered down into the sparkling pool. Conner’s mother was tired. It had been a long day in the sun and she was headachy from the wine. After an hour, they called the police.

For three days Jesus remained missing. On the fourth day, the pool cleaners unloaded their equipment, hauled it into Conner’s backyard. They lowered a long brush into the empty pool. But it wasn’t empty. A layer of silt had settled a few feet above the deep end, and below it lay the body of Jesus, waiting to be taken back home.

Photo by Dim Hou on Unsplash