In the six years I spent tracking David Addley, it never occurred to me that he didn’t exist.
Perhaps my friends were too nice and polite every time I mentioned his name. “Has anyone got news about David?” I’d ask over coffee at work.
Martin and Tia would look at each other worriedly. One would finally answer, “No, no sign of David. Sorry.” And then she’d change the subject. “How’s the new deck coming for your pool, Ethan?”
After three years, I stopped talking about my search and pretended I gave up on David – like a kid ending his superhero phase and moving on to something else, except I couldn’t focus on anything else.
“Mr. Addley, the car mechanic? Oh sure, I sure him last month at Better Value. He rang up $80 worth of beer and whisky. Must’ve been going to some party!” Darlene informed me over a tuna melt panini. She remembered my obsession with David. I decided to bring him up again. She had always been the best listener. Maybe the time lapse, oh maybe two years between our last conversation about him, resurfaced memory of David.
Darlene took a gooey bite and leaned across the table so I could hear her better over the street traffic. “Ethan. Are you really still trying to find this guy? He’s ubiquitous. Yes, I have seen him. You have not. You have simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. That is all. How about I call you next time I see him? Even if it’s just a shadow of his shoulder.”
Mr. Addley was last seen at the auto shop six years ago. He closed up for the weekend and never returned for Monday morning. The thing that bothered me most wasn’t that he disappeared, but how no one cared. No police investigations, no questioning. He had no family or friends to question. Zip, zero. A week later, a new mechanic filled his place. No one wondered if David would come back. They completely denied his existence. “Forgettable character, I suppose,” Ethan’s sister reasoned once over the phone.
But Darlene has been by buddy since high school. She’s also the only one to have spotted Mr. Addley on occasion throughout the six years. “Let’s see. David is clearly sustaining himself. Hopefully not all on alcohol alone!” She chuckled. “He likes to exercise. A year ago he jogged along the Charles River in bright yellow runners and short shorts. It was goddamned freezing too. And, I don’t know. That’s about all I got. You’ve checked all homeless shelters and phonebooks for his name right?” She paused. “Silly question.”
Darlene gave me hope that he was still out there. The police disregarded my inquiries and laughed when I insisted about a man I never met.
But how can a man go missing and no one blinks an eye?
“You sure it’s Mr. Addley you’ve been seeing?”
“Positive. What other person walks around with a gun sticking out of his boot?”