During the summer of the Iran-Contra hearings, my wife and I rented a remote farmhouse in Delhi, upstate New York. Each day, we would lie on inflatable rafts in the pond as our dog hunted for frogs in the reeds. Each evening, we would barbecue and play gin rummy. Each night, the terror returned. The darkness was impenetrable. The silence was unbroken but for the occasional creak from the old house or the vermin skittering in the walls. We lay awake, clutching the counterpane, as the same lone pickup rattled back and forth across the county road beyond our front door. We whispered to each other: Gein, Gacy, Bundy, Berkowitz, Bianchi, Buono… In the morning sunshine, those fears seemed absurd. But finally, unable to get a decent night’s sleep, we cut our vacation short.
That Christmas an item appeared in the Times. A serial killer had been arrested in Delhi. Operating in the area for years, he had been particularly active the previous summer, burying six prostitutes and hitchhikers in the farmyard directly next door to the one we had rented. The following summer, we went to Disney World.