by Marc Charbonnet
"Hello Marc? It's Peggy, are you there?" came the voice out of the answering machine. I grabbed the receiver, shouting "Peggy, hi!"
Peggy and I have been friends ever since our older brothers, Ken and Chris, became best friends during grammar school in the 6th grade, in New Orleans. We weren't really even friends in the beginning, but as adults we would one day both land artistic professions, and those roots of interest would seal our lifelong bond.
She was calling to let me know she'd returned safely to New Orleans. She'd been in New York City for a visit, where we'd had a typically uproarious time. We'd had such fun that she'd boarded the plane back home having neglected what she'd been in town for in the first place: to secure a temporary tenant for her old place here. Peggy had recently moved back to Louisiana after residing for a few years in New York.
She'd had a lovely pied-a terre in Hell's Kitchen, on West 49th Street, consisting of a small living room and larger bedroom. She felt the wall separating the two rooms prevented the place from being perfect. I would never have guessed someone like her would have taken the wall down with a jack hammer, but she did. Rather than open the space up, it created a kind of optical illusion and somehow made the place even smaller. There were no more two rooms! It became a simple little studio apartment. One she didn't want to permanently give up.
"You sound in good spirits." I told her.
"You're not going to believe this." she said, her voice sounding frantic. "Do you remember when I had to leave you early the night I left, to go meet with Gene Hamilton for drinks, before I went to the airport?"
"Well sure," I said. "That was just yesterday. What's wrong?" "Nothing is wrong." she said, "But you're not going to believe what happened."
"Uh-huh." I deadpanned.
Peggy is one of the most adventurous people I've ever known. She's always calling to tell me some wacky thing that has happened in her life as the result of some new person or event; she's like that. I was used to it, but I braced myself as a formality anyway.
"Gene had some news for me." she continued.
"Ok." I said.
"One of my paintings sold." she said with a pause.
"Congrats!" I told her.
Some people call Peggy's paintings "photorealist." She really has a gift. Her work usually consists of mundane, linear objects and scenarios as their subjects; industrial lines, electrical or telephone lines, or maybe a sign. Gene is her agent, and friend. Peggy's younger brother, Simon, is disgusted that Gene is her agent, because Gene does not own a cell phone. He says anyone in New York today who doesn't have a cell phone cannot possibly be legitimate.
"Remember the painting I did called Pool Hall?" she asked.
"I think so." I said, recalling a small structural piece in dry pastel, with sign letters slashed across its center that read "Pool Hall," with the second "o" burned out.
"That's the piece that sold" she said.
"Guess who bought it?" she asked, ignoring my felicitations.
"Who?" I was prepared to let the name of whatever obscure art collector she was about to identify go right through and out both of my ears, like the names of all the others had.
"David Sedaris." she said clearly.
"Who?" I asked clearly, bolting upright.
She said his name again.
"David Sedaris? The David Sedaris?" I asked.
"Yes! The writer!" she continued, "Gene was thrilled to have met him at a party downtown. And before he knew it, David and he were hanging out at Gene's apartment for drinks."
"Gene slept with David Sedaris to sell one of your paintings?" I pried, only half-jokingly.
"Nooo…nothing like that. Just friends. But David had noticed my Pool Hall painting in Gene's apartment," she said proudly, then almost whispering, "and Gene said he became fascinated with it!"
"Really?" I said. I was amazed.
"Anyway," she went on, "it gets even better. David called Gene up a few days later to let him know…"
"Wait, wait…have you met him yet?" I interrupted breathlessly, "Or talked with him?"
"Who?" said Peggy.
"No, not yet." she said flatly, continuing, "Anyway, David called Gene a day later to tell let him know that he was speaking to the people at Viking Publishing about using the image of my Pool Hall painting for the cover of his upcoming book!"
"Whaaaat?" I squealed, nearly confused, "You…this is a joke!"
"I can hardly believe it myself," giggled Peggy, "but now Gene is just waiting to hear from David's agent or publishers or whoever. He said David wanted to make a few small changes to my painting, if he were to use it, which I would never do…"
"You must!" I screamed, as Gomez, Magi and Benny leapt off the couch and ran into my bedroom, up their custom made steps–carpeted in silk velvet gauffrage–and dove beneath the mink belly blanket thrown across my bed.
"I am, I am!" she screamed back, "I'd do a Thomas Kinkade painting if I thought it would David Sedaris wanted to use it on the cover of his book!"
"Do you realize how many people are going to see this, Peggy?" I gasped.
"Oh I know I know!" she agreed, "It's unbelievable, a real incredible stroke of luck."
My mind raced. I was now standing up, holding a heavy stack of crumpled manuscript papers in each hand and a pen in my mouth (I was in the middle of writing my first book).
"Well, listen, Marc, I've got to go." she concluded, "I've got to wait on another call from Gene. He's hammering out the ownership of the painting, the rights of use or something or other. Okay, I'll talk to you later and keep you posted on every detail!"
After I hung up the phone and recovered from shock, I realized how happy I was for her. She'd sounded so excited. I hadn't heard her that full of life since we were kids.
The next day Peggy called again.
"Hel…" I started to answer the phone with.
"This is so exciting!" Peggy interrupted. "You aren't going to believe…I mean it's so incredible…I can't…you know?"
"Peggy?" I said, "Are you all right? Calm down."
"Oh I'm just flustered. You aren't going to believe what's happening now," she sputtered.
"Oh no." I said, dropping my shoulders, "David doesn't want to use the painting for his book cover after all?"
"No, no," she chuckled, "He still does. But get this, Gene let me know that David talked with his publishers about actually naming his book Pool Hall, instead of whatever he was going to call it before, because he thinks the sign in my painting is perfect, at least he said so. He's actually changing the title of his new book of stories to correspond with my painting!"
"No!" I said. I had gone from proud friend to proud-but-secretly-jealous-ally. "That's unreal!"
"I can't believe it and neither can Gene." she said.
"What is David's new book going to be about?" I asked.
"Oh, more collections of stories I think," she said. "Gene mentioned something to that effect, he'd heard, at least I think. I'm not sure. But we're both floored because this actually means more money and…well, I've got to go though, I just wanted to share the news. Gene's waiting on a call back from the Viking people. You know, this isn't just a windfall for me, it's one for Gene too!"
I was so happy for her. I couldn't believe it. I hung up the phone.
"You spoke with him?" I screamed into the phone the next day.
"Yes, yes." Peggy said calling from New Orleans as she packed her bags to come back to New York yet again.
"What did he sound like?" I asked.
"Oh you know, a little different than he does on the radio and TV. He was so funny, kind of quirky! A very sweet, nice man." she said.
"Really?" I questioned, even though I knew it would be true.
"And so complimentary too!" she confessed.
"How?" I asked.
"He really made me feel good. He's so kind, so very kind," she said quietly. "A little over the top maybe, but yeah, very complimentary."
We had a long discussion about David Sedaris's work. I was a true fan, as was she. She went on and on about how surreal it is to be on a one-on-one basis with someone whose writing you've admired for so long. This gave us lots to talk about, but then she had to dash off, again, obviously having some friends-with-the-famous-type things to take care of.
I didn't hear from Peggy for a few days after that. But as luck would have it, Gene Hamilton contacted me on an unrelated matter.
"So," I said on the phone, "I just can't believe the thing about David and Peggy."
"Yesss…" Gene said, "We're all very excited about it." "Well, Peggy is a great artist, I can see why someone like that would spot her talent." I lauded like a parent.
"It was extraordinary," he said robotically. "I'm still trying to iron out the…oh, wait. Marc would you mind if I called you back? I have another call and I think it may be the one I've been waiting on."
"Ciao!" I said, and hung up.
Gene never called back, and I still hadn't heard from Peggy, but it was understandable; people dealing with the "big time" have a lot to deal with.
"Hi, Ms. Bestseller!" I said jovially, picking up the phone when she finally called days later. "Are you in New York?"
"Haha, thanks. And no, not yet." Peggy said, "Listen, I wanted to ask you something. Do you think it's weird that David Sedaris is now going to be subletting my apartment?"
"Whaaaat!?" I gasped.
"Yes. I haven't talked to you in a while, sorry. Anyway, in conversations with Gene, David revealed to him that he's breaking up with his long-term partner, I can't remember the guy's name, and also his place in the East Village is being redone, so he was looking for a place to live for the time being. Gene was getting a little cramped with having David stay at his place, and so he mentioned to him that I was looking to sublet my place and soon…"
"Wait, what? David has been staying at Gene's all this time?" I asked, hiding my grin.
"Oh yeah, you didn't know," she remembered. "I guess it was something to do with him breaking up with his boyfriend, or something. I never really figured it out."
"Are you sure Gene isn't sleeping with David Sedaris?" I groaned.
"No, no! Trust me, nothing like that!" Peggy yelled. She knew I could be a gossip fiend. "Gene was just doing that as a favor. Really. But I think Gene was getting sick of David staying there, so suddenly David called me here, and was so nice, asking if he could rent my place. He promised to send a whole four months rent to me in advance."
"It's David Sedaris, ask for double!" I offered.
"Haha. It's too late for that," she laughed. "But before I knew it, that was that. He's going to be my tenant. And apparently Gene already let him into my place with his set of my keys."
"I can't believe this is happening!" I chimed excitedly.
"You don't think it's a little odd?" she said.
"Are you kidding?" I said. "It's perfect!"
"Don't you think David Sedaris would have other people to stay in New York with?" Peggy asked. "Or could afford a nice hotel?"
"I guess." I said. She had a point.
"Well, I'm sure it will all work out. I'm thrilled about it all," she concluded, eventually. "I'm just glad to finally have someone in my apartment. David and I have spoken on the phone quite a lot now. He's such a sweet man. Very shy and humble. And I trust Gene."
Who wouldn't trust David Sedaris, I thought to myself after we said goodbye and hung up. Peggy couldn't wait to meet David in person. Neither could I.
When Peggy returned to New York, she scheduled a dinner with Gene and David, and arrived at the restaurant dressed to the nines. There, she found Gene, alone, explaining that he'd just gotten a call from David's assistant, who said he had reminded David about a last minute flight to Switzerland for some sort of panel discussion or radio interview or something in Europe.
So Peggy stayed a few extra days to hopefully see David Sedaris when he returned, only to have David call Gene again, from Switzerland this time, telling him that he had to fly straight to Los Angeles to meet with some people about a new reality television show in the works, on FOX, like an American Idol for writers, and David was possibly going to be one of the judges. David bragged to Gene that he found the concept absurd, but his publishers thought it would be a good gesture to at least meet with them, to connect. Plus, he would be in LA over the weekend, as he was being interviewed by someone for Out magazine, for a cover story that was to coincide with the release of his new book. Meanwhile he wondered, did Peggy get the check for four months rent yet? No? Oh, it had been mailed to her New Orleans address, that's right.
Later the phone rang. It was Peggy, sounding frantic.
"Marc, oh my God! Are you sitting down?" she said.
"Well, now I am," I told her. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing's wrong, exactly," she said, "I went to my apartment to get that painting, because David's in LA. And when I opened the door, I heard this squeal coming from inside. I panicked for a second, and when I looked up there was a man in my bed. It was David!"
"What? I thought he was on Swiss American Idol?" I joked.
"It was so awkward!" she told me, out of breath because she was walking down the street as she talked. "He stood up from the bed and covered himself saying 'Oh my goodness! You're just precious!' over and over. And all I could say was 'I'm so sorry, David Sedaris.' I called him by his full name, oops, and then I said 'You told me you weren't going to be in. I'm Peggy.' And he said 'Oh I know! I know who you are! You're adorable! Simply precious!' and he's standing right there in my apartment, naked, wrapped in a sheet trying to hug me!"
"Oh my God!"
"And it gets weirder," she said, whispering again. "Guess what his real name is?"
"What do you mean real name? David Sedaris isn't his real name?" I said with disbelief.
"No," said Peggy, "and I just found out what it is."
"Oh my God, what?"
"How did you find out?"
"When he was standing there in a towel, he said 'I'm Timmy' after I told him who I was. It didn't hit me for a few seconds, then when I asked him, he told me that yes, his real name is Timmy Davenport. The whole Sedaris name is made up."
"So that mean's his sister Amy Sedaris's real name is Amy Davenport?" I asked.
"Yeah, you know it makes me wonder." Peggy said almost accusingly. "Amy Sedaris's name isn't Amy Davenport! We know that! Plus, all those stories he's written about his family, I mean it's all out in the open. They aren't really the Davenports!"
"Gene didn't know David's real name?" I asked.
"Yes, actually he knew." Peggy said, "I don't know why he didn't tell me before. He told me people often have stage names. Gene said not to worry about it."
"Peggy, are you're sure it's really him?" I asked.
"Oh, yeah, now that I've met him, I'm sure it is." she said, "When all the other stuff was happening, him wanting to live in my apartment and all, I had some doubts, I'll confess. But now that I've met him there's no doubt. He looks just like him, sounds like him. It's him! David, I mean…Timmy said the television thing wrapped early and he had just gotten in late the night before and was about to call. He was so grateful about me letting him rent my place and went on and on about me letting him use the image. He told me I should call Viking immediately to make arrangements for payment for the image, and, oh, he said he believed it was in the neighborhood of $10,000 to $15,000. And he said that's just the up-front fee. I'm so thrilled. And he was nice. Such a friendly, nice fellow."
"Well, that's great!" I said.
"Oh, and guess what? I spied his laptop on my table, and it was open! Isn't that amazing?" she bragged.
"I love it!" I said. "What a first impression!"
"Plus," she added, "Gene called me and said he finally got the official call from Viking. The deal for the painting to be on the cover is underway. They're still haggling over the price but it's official. So, I'm on my way!"
"Well, I never doubted it for a second," I said proudly. "Listen, I'm still staying at Gene's." she said, "Do you want to come over tomorrow and meet him? I had to hustle out of there because, well he was nude and all. But I'm supposed to come back and get another month's rent check from him, he insisted, and he wanted to talk, since we haven't had a chance to in person. I'd love for you to be there."
"I'd love to," I said, restraining myself.
"Marc, there's one more thing," she said.
"There was someone else in bed with him when I was there!" she giggled.
"Whaaaat? Not his ex-lover I presume!"
"I don't think so," she said laughing. "Anyway there was some guy the there in the bed the whole time, peeking from under the covers at David and me meeting each other for the first time!"
We made plans for the next day and hung up. My cheeks began to tingle, and I realized it was because I was smiling so uncontrollably. The whole situation was beginning to sink in. Here she was, renting her place, licensing a piece of her work which would be seen by thousands of people all over the world, not to mention making a valuable contact and a bestselling author's friendship. It looked like they were headed for a really good and long term relationship, best friends. I couldn't believe this was happening to her. And I was going to meet him!
I arrived early the next day and rang Peggy's buzzer, as she'd told me to just meet her there because she needed help removing a different painting, which was a huge canvas. Suddenly, David's voice answered the intercom. There was no mistaking it. "Come on up!" he said. He said it to me! I felt dizzy for a few seconds when I heard it. I finally reached her floor, finding the door to the apartment propped open. I walked right in, acting as casual as possible, as I looked around and saw Peggy standing inside, talking on her cell phone. She waved hello and wordlessly pointed towards the bathroom, where I could hear the shower running. David had obviously just jumped in. I could hear Peggy on the phone saying "…he didn't have the check because there was some problem with his bank." Soon, she put her hand over the receiver and told me she was talking to Gene, and had to go outside for a minute, and asked me to stay put. She walked out and I heard her footsteps go down the hall. I really wish she hadn't done that. Here I was about to meet David Sedaris, and I really didn't want to greet him for the first time, possibly unannounced inside the apartment, by myself, while he walked out of his bathroom dripping wet and wearing a shower cap. I chuckled as I pictured myself stripping naked, going into the bathroom and pulling back the shower door and stepping in, saying, "Do you mind? I'm a fan."
All Psycho-scenario fantasies aside, it was rather surreal. There I sat, quietly, and David Sedaris himself was in the bathroom right on the other side of the wall taking a shower. At what point in someone's life could they possibly predict such a scenario would occur in their future? I looked over at the kitchen and saw the Pool Hall painting leaning sideways against a table leg. Only the loud sound of the shower filled the quiet room. God, where was Peggy?
Suddenly, I flinched when the morbid quiet was broken by the loud ring of the phone. The answering machine wasn't hooked up, because it just kept ringing. Suddenly David Sedaris's voice came shouting from inside the shower "Peggy? Is that the phone ringing? Can you answer it please and take a message? My machine isn't hooked up yet!" I said nothing, and just walked over to the other side of the apartment and picked up the receiver.
"Hello?" I said.
There was a pause. and then a woman with a Southern voice, an older woman, said, "Is Timmy there?" in a strange tone.
"Who?" I said, "Oh, oh yes. Timmy's here. He's in the shower right now. May I take a message?"
There was another pause. "This is his mother." the woman said.
"Oh, okay." I said, finding a pen and something to write on. Just as I was saying "Allright, and would you like him to call you…" the person on the other end interrupted me.
"Is he still drinking?" the voice said.
"Uh…what?" I responded.
And then I heard the receiver slowly hang up on her end.
"Hello? Hello?" I said. The line was dead.
"Is this a joke?" I thought to myself, looking down to see I'd written "mom, is drinking?" on the back of a cable bill envelope. I looked around, still holding the phone in my hand. Suddenly I spied Peggy motioning me from outside the apartment's front door. She had a dire look on her face. She was signaling for me to come outside, and holding her finger over her mouth for me to keep quiet.
I put the phone down and walked toward her. The sound of the shower was still echoing loudly out of the bathroom. As I got closer, she motioned for me to grab my bag, which I did, and then she almost pulled my arm off, yanking me outside. As we both heard the sound of the shower turning off, Peggy carefully shut the door and told me to quietly follow her downstairs and outside. "What… what?" I kept whispering as we briskly made our way downstairs.
We finally got outside on the street and I trailed beside her as she began to almost run down the sidewalk.
"Marc," Peggy said, stopping, "I just got off the phone with Gene. He told me to get you and me out of that apartment immediately. That man upstairs is not David Sedaris!"
"Well, I think I just spoke to David Sedaris's mother on the phone!" I told her, almost bragging.
"Marc, are you listening to me?" Peggy said.
"What do you mean that's not David Sedaris up there?" I said as I looked back up at the window. "Of course it is."
"Listen, Gene told me he got suspicious, and found the numbers on his cell phone from the calls he'd gotten from the editor and the agent at Viking!" she said, rapidly tripping over her words. "He realized they were the same phone number, and when he called it, some weird person answered and when he asked if it was Viking Publishing they got flustered and hung up! It was a residential number!"
"What? No!" I demanded.
"Marc, listen!" she said, "Gene dug deep and contacted some of this man's friends that he met earlier, when Timmy was staying with him. He finally found someone who confessed the whole thing. That man is NOT David Sedaris!"
"But you said he looks just like him!" I continued.
"He does!" she gasped, "But that doesn't matter, not now! Maybe he's done this before! Whoever Gene talked to gave him David's, no…Timmy's mother's phone number in Georgia and Gene called this woman. Marc, she said this man just got out of jail for writing bad checks, and mail and credit card fraud! Plus drug dealing! Oh God! His own mother said she had no idea where he was, and wanted to know if he was alright because he's always getting into trouble, and besides being an alcoholic had mental problems or something."
"He's just gifted!" I pleaded, grasping.
"Marc, that 'David Sedaris' in my shower is actually a psychopathic con artist!"
"Oh my God!" I suddenly shouted, remembering details from one of his books, "David Sedaris’s mother is dead!"
"Oh yoo-hoo!" we both heard, coming from across the street. It was the fey, studied, distinct voice I'd heard on NPR monologues, David Letterman interviews, and on live recording CDs. It was the voice of David Sedaris, now booming across 49th Street from a fourth floor apartment window. We both looked over.
"It's David Sedaris!" I said, pointing skyward as if I'd seen Superman.
"Peggyyy!" David screamed down from her window, "Is everything okay? Are you coming back up?"
By all accounts, in the bright sunlight and from the distance, it was indeed him. Except I'd never seen David Sedaris topless. "Wow, it's really him!" I said out loud to myself only.
"Oh my God!" Peggy said, turning back to me briefly. She then cracked a stiff smile and looked up at him through her sunglasses.
"I'm saying goodbye to my friend!" she yelled back. "I'll be right up! Okay?"
"All riiight!" said David, waving and disappearing back behind the darkness beyond the windowsill.
"Marc," Peggy said, turning around, "I need you to go back up there with me, I'm scared."
"Why didn't you didn't introduce me?" I asked.
"Marc!" she yelled.
Peggy's cell phone rang, and it was Gene, who had investigated even further and discovered more disturbing facts. As Peggy talked with Gene, I stood there watching her eyes through her sunglasses. It suddenly occurred to me that her having to deal with this absurd situation was just a panicky front for an even worse crisis. She was harboring a six-degrees-of-separation situation, an embarrassing one, not to mention dangerous. She had a man in her apartment who claimed to be a famous author who was actually a Southerner who had just gotten out of jail, and she had fallen for it. Both she and Gene had. Here she was the victim of a crime–indeed fighting or flying in the very moment it was being committed–but also realizing her painting hadn't been sold, and wasn't going to be on the cover of a bestseller. None of it was true.
I looked back across the street, being distracted by what I thought was movement up in Peggy's open apartment window again. But as soon as I looked up again, there was nobody there. Peggy got off the phone with Gene, telling me he had said not to go back up there under any circumstances. She told me she was going over to Gene's right away, and they were getting the police involved, but Gene didn't know how to approach it just yet. I gave her a huge, long hug and told her everything was going to be all right. I looked down and realized she had a tear in each eye. I told her to call me as soon as she got to Gene's, and that I'd be waiting for her. Then I put her in a taxi and watched it drive off. What a disappointment the whole thing must be for her.
A few hours later I learned that Gene and she hadn't gotten the police involved after all. They cooked up a scheme to just get him out of the apartment so that she could get in there, make sure her artwork and belongings were safe, and take his things out and change the lock so that her place was secure. Then they put it into action.
She rescheduled her flight back to New Orleans for later in the week, then called Timmy and made some excuse about having to leave earlier, and told him she now had to go back home, never once letting him know she was staying in town. She continued a friendly chit-chat relationship him on the phone, then called him the next day and let him know that someone was coming over. I suggested that she tell him that it's someone who just happens to coincidentally know him, or know David Sedaris. So she called him and said that someone named Mary-Ellen was on her way over to get that painting, and he'll be so happy to see her because Mary-Ellen told Peggy that David and she were good friends.
"Who is this, now?" Timmy said as soon as she said that.
"It's your friend Mary-Ellen Taylor!" Peggy said, "It's a weird coincidence. She works at Viking, and she knows Gene. Anyway she knows you and was surprised actually because she said she didn't think you even lived in New York any more. She'll be there in a few hours. Is that all right?"
Timmy was probably already suspicious that the jig was up, but at any rate, that worked. Peggy showed up at the apartment two hours later with the building's superintendent, Gene, and a locksmith ready to install a new deadbolt immediately. Timmy had beaten a hasty retreat. Most of his stuff was gone, and what was left looked pretty ratty. Nothing of Peggy's was missing, but she did see drawers and closets that looked like they'd been riffled through. She also discovered some kind of bodily fluid stains on the cashmere blankets she'd just brought back from Shanghai. Gross. If it was actually David Sedaris's body fluids on your rug it's gross enough, but at least you can sell it on Ebay. But if it's a David Sedaris imposter's body fluids, it's just really disgusting.
She took his remaining junk and tossed it in a duffel bag. Gene then called Timmy's number and told him that they were onto the whole scam, and they set up a time to meet at a bar downtown, to get the keys, give him his stuff, and really just end it. Gene and Peggy called me up, inviting me to come along, for a friend's much-needed moral support during a sordid moment more than anything else.
That evening we sat tensely waiting in the bar for Timmy to arrive, and I finally heard the whole story from Gene's mouth. He had met Timmy in a bar. They had a drink, and before he knew it, Timmy was at his place for two weeks with the David Sedaris story. He'd actually revealed it to Gene slowly when they'd met, like a superhero revealing their secret identity. He told him that his sister, Amy Sedaris, was actually named Stephanie Davenport. Gene claimed Timmy really had a way about him. There had been others in on the weird scam, probably some of Timmy's oddball friends that Gene had meet when Timmy was staying at his place, hence all the fake phone calls from Viking. When Gene finally uncovered it all, thanks in part to one of those oddballs, and Timmy's mother, he was dumbstruck.
The thing is, Gene's no fool, and neither is Peggy. But, there you go. It's amazing how skilled some people are at the art of seduction, which is what conning really is.
Peggy would later learn the scam had cost her a couple thousand dollars worth of expenses. She would soon check her telephone bill and realize that he had been accepting collect calls from a work-farm penitentiary, and the number of calls and fees were astronomical. She would also find out that Timmy had watched a bunch of pay-for-view movies on her cable, charged to her. In addition she would discover her house account at Gracious Homes had been charged to the hilt by him, somehow, to purchase weirdly unnecessary objects for the apartment like nickel soap dispensers, terry cloth towels and diamond quilted shower curtains.
It had been quite a ride. If Madonna can claim that fame is the next-best-thing to love, then perhaps I can claim that being conned by a sociopath claiming to be a famous celebrity who wants to put your painting on the cover of their next bestseller so they can occupy your apartment, possibly steal your identity and maybe even poison you and then dissolve your corpse in a bathtub full of sulfuric acid…well, maybe that's the next best thing to fame. If not, it's pretty damn close.
What was going on in this guy's world? Was Timmy delusional? Was it all premediated? Did he really think he was David Sedaris? Did he study David's voice to be able to imitate it so well? Was he even a fan of David's at all? What were his long-term goals with Peggy and Gene?
"Here he comes," said Gene, looking toward the front of the bar. In walked this short man, who did indeed appear to be David Sedaris, that is, if you know what David Sedaris looks like, and really, how many people do? Judging from his facial expression and the way he carried himself, this man appeared to be at total peace with himself. He slowly approached, smiling and nodding at each of us one at a time as we sat there. He looked at Gene, then seemed surprised to see Peggy. He didn't know who I was. He then looked right at Peggy and said, "I can explain."
"There's nothing to explain." she said, "I know you're not David Sedaris."
"How do you know I'm not David Sedaris?" he said, still brandishing a confident smile.
Peggy couldn't help but laugh. So did Gene. I just sat there sipping my drink, saying nothing. The more I looked at him, I noticed that this man didn't look as much like David Sedaris as he looked like David Sedaris, sort of. He also looked much older, and I soon noticed he was concealing a bad hair dye job.
"I know it's a problem for you," said Peggy. "I'm sorry, Timmy, but the jig's up. Everything you said is a lie."
"We spoke to your mother," interrupted Gene.
"There's no book because you're not the author," Peggy continued. "There is no painting of mine being sold, you're not the author. You're a liar. Here's your stuff, you've been locked out of the apartment."
What happened next, I'll never forget. I watched the expression on this man's face change so drastically, he almost seemed like someone else. His expression became ice cold, and his eyes became dark and blank. Just like that–lights out, nobody's home.
He looked at Peggy, and meekly said, "I am sorry I deceived you," in his still rather convincing David Sedaris voice, then just handed her a random $400 in cash, like it was sixty pieces of silver.
He then picked up his duffle bag, turned around, and the fake David Sedaris walked out the door.