Horror mastermind, Stephen King, penned one of my favorite shorts stories of all time in 1982. The Body, from his Different Seasons collection, is (to borrow words from Mary Poppins) practically perfect in every way. The Body takes place in a small Maine town during the sweltering summer of 1960. Days before the start of middle school, four boys set out to retrieve the dead body of 13 year-old Ray Brower. Brower's gone missing, and only a handful of souls know his location. King's pacing, dialogue, and fleshing of the characters is masterful. The only time the story falters is Chapter 7, the abrupt insertion of adult-Gordie's perverted story, Stud City.
In 1986, Rob Reiner transformed The Body into a full-length movie renamed Stand By Me. Reiner stayed remarkably close to King's story down to much of the dialogue. (Blessedly, Reiner decided not to include any references to Stud City.)
I re-watched Stand By Me, this summer. For the first time I saw the boys not as my peers, but as twelve year-olds coming to terms with neglect, addiction, and violence in their families. Also, the adults in their community have decided they are disposable, and the boys know it. It's painful to watch, especially knowing kids the world over are receiving this same message every day.
You can read Stephen King's complete novella, The Body, online.