For several months in high school, my friend Beverly was driving around with a present for a guy named Don Moore in the trunk of her car.
Apparently her brother had bought this present for Don Moore, who was maybe a friend of his or at least someone he knew, and had asked Beverly to give it to Don Moore. I’m not even sure Beverly knew Don Moore all that well but she told me that according to her brother (who was in college in Boston) she would be more likely to run into Don Moore than he would. You tended not to question Beverly’s brother all that much about things because you could never really get a straight answer.
Anyway, the present for Don Moore remained in the trunk of Beverly’s car, the way these things do.
On the night of our senior prom, Beverly’s car was broken into. Among the items stolen: her wallet, a bunch of cassette tapes, and the present for Don Moore.
For some reason, though really it’s probably obvious, I became a bit obsessed by the break-in and the subsequent loss of the present for Don Moore.
We naturally wondered if it was Don Moore himself who had orchestrated the break-in. By the time Beverly’s brother had heard about it, he could no longer remember what the present was anymore (or so he claimed).
I never forgot about it though. In fact, I thought of it for years. (Hilariously, as was typical of Beverly’s brother, many years later, right before his ten-year high school reunion, he told Beverly that Don Moore was going to be there and he was going to want to know where his present was.)
There was something about Don Moore’s present that made it the perfect plot device for a story, a story I could never seem to write. The big reveal, I thought, would be when Don Moore’s present would finally be discovered and its significance would tie everything together. Even the title sounded great: “The Present for Don Moore.”
Except I couldn’t imagine an object that could possibly tie everything together.
Then I considered the possibility that the present would never be revealed, but that the break-in and perhaps subsequent search for the present would be the important plot point, the point upon which the story would spin.
This too left me flummoxed.
Finally I came to realize that the story went like this: a forgotten present was left in the trunk of my friend’s car and then one day it was stolen. I would never know what the present was, or even, for that matter, who Don Moore was, but the idea of it, simply the possibility, would haunt me for years.
Sometimes you can come up with a great story out of the most mundane materials. But then sometimes, you can have great materials right in front of you, but the story never comes.
As for the person who stole Don Moore’s present? I hope at least he has a good story.