Escanaba, Mich.

Children are adorable. One look at those round angles, those elephantine eyes, and rationality fades. We become not only willing to spend weeknights observing the wee spawns as they stand around green fields in uniforms; we will, upon the occasional intersection of coordination and intention, actually stand and cheer. We get so dazzled, staring down at little Jimmy or Jessica, we won’t even recognize this terrifying reality: until very recently, they did not exist.

My realization that things popping out of the void are as alarming as things popping into it came via Bissler. Even now, years later, I can picture that gray house on Sixth Avenue; the one where he lived with his parents, two older brothers, and golden retriever named Sadie. It’s like this for all of us who knew him. Recalling that neat dark hair arched over devout eyes is effortless. Answering questions about what he actually did and didn’t do is not.

Did Bissler actually execute a cat in the microwave? Probably not.

Was Bissler actually responsible for those families moving away? Possibly. But lots of people left town when the Harnischfeger plant closed.

How deep did that arrow actually stick into Tyler Beckstrom’s butt cheek? Bissler’s favorite trick involved inviting people to his house, hiding on the roof, and then shooting them as they wandered about in his yard. So it is easy to imagine how the incident occurred. But even back then, our memories uncorrupted, those one-inch/four-inch arguments were moot. Evidence pointed to the use of a compound bow, but the arrow had been tipless.

We hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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—Trevor Koski

Trevor Koski grew up in in a small town in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. He last saw Bissler two years ago, standing outside Mueller’s Pizza on Main Street. Bissler wore a Garibaldi beard and a camouflage green jacket. They went inside and talked about Bissler’s baby girl. Her name is Sasha.

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