Scott, they never found him. Trays of French cakes and souffles were overturned at the restaurant he worked in, but no Scott. They came looking for him in the bar, under tables, in the head, no Scott. Vanished, ephemeral, a barrel load of mystery tapped into gone.
Down the block, the liquor store could only say, he bought a bottle of champagne for breakfast every day. Some may have remembered his one and only A.A. meeting, spilling hot coffee on the bald head of a man with 20 years sober. In the worn-out hotel, where he never made his bed, the front desk could only remember the great river flowing down the stairs. Consider it a watershed event for Scott, passing out drunk while running a bath. The hotelier booted him on to the street.
He knew his way around custard. Pastry chef stitched on his work jacket. But he couldn't resist loading the creme brulee with too much cognac, and drinking the rest. Customers complained of feeling sloshed after dessert, when mineral water was their only imbibe. He was fired. Two bottles of cognac left with him.
And he was gone. His family wonder where?
Hey man, it's great to see you again.
Rolodex memory starts to flip. Don't recognize the eyes. Nor the hair or the voice. Could be anyone. Size, manner, happy disposition -- no register, no idea who this is.
It's good to see you again, I say, Where have you been?
His answer offers no clue. I don't know him. Is he faking this?
Have things changed much since I worked here? he says.
No. Same old song, I say.
Is Bill still working here?
He knows Bill.
No, he quit.
Well, it's good seeing you again, man. We had some good times.
Later, I go home and look for my memory under the bed, in the closet, behind the door, under the carpet, behind the liquor on the shelf.
It's not there. Maybe I'll have some champagne for breakfast.