Two days before Thanksgiving 2013, Manny announced that he'd been invited to a friend's house in the city to join them for the family meal. He hemmed and hawed, wondering if he should go. The drunken debacle from earlier in the week was still bothering me keenly.
"I'll betcher they just want to take advantage of my cooking skills," he said. "People take advantage in this world, don't you know? It's a terrible world. Someone oughta do something about this terrible world."
"No doubt, you talented sot!" said I. "You are a culinary genius. Go, go, and spread your gifts."
"I dunno. It's kinda cold. And I'm an OLD man. I get pains in my hip, and here. And here." He gestured to various places. I feared he might be about to expose stuff.
I nearly packed his bags for him.
"Go, go, my friend! You'll have a simply wonderful time!" I said, helping him out the door with a well-placed boot.
He was never heard from again.
(This isn't quite accurate, but for a while it was. And it sure sounded dramatic.)
After he trundled off with his roll-aboard into the city, I had a rare and startling meltdown during which I leaned against a kitchen cabinet and screamed at the top of my lungs: "Get him out get him out get him out of my house now I want him out now! I want that barking mad ass-clown madman out of my house!"
Manny received a text. It said something along the lines of, "Sorry old chap, we've had a bit of a blow-out, and you'll need to seek alternate housing arrangements." He didn't respond, so another text went out: "Of course, we understand that you'll need time to find another place to live. Let's discuss when you return."
He didn't reply to that either. We tried calling him. It said his phone wasn't in service. None of his numbers were in service, even his work phone. We knew his friends in the city by weird nickname only: Tom the Cattle King, Johnny the Tax Auditor, Chicken-Fried Sadie, and so on, so it was impossible to contact any of them. Manny had completely vanished. Three weeks passed, and we wondered if we should file a missing person's report or check the morgue.
I finally tracked him down via a scrap of paper I found in his attic room, which contained the website of a friend. I emailed her, describing our situation and our friend "John Doe" and asking if he was okay.
He was, she replied. His phone had been stolen and he'd had trouble getting a new one, as both times he'd shown up at the AT&T store the police had quickly been summoned by frightened employees complaining, no doubt, about a boisterous drunk with a potato-shaped head that reminded them eerily of Bill Murray.
However, there was one small problem. Who the hell was "John Doe"? The man who was staying at her apartment had been known to her for the past 20 years as "Richard Roe," not "John Doe."
And, apparently, I'd blown his cover and his entire fake personality with one thoughtless email.