Matt, Mo and I travel to a friend’s birthday party in a British seaside town. We’re all staying over with a mutual friend, Bert, so we leave our bags at his place and head out.
The party ends at 1am and Mo goes off to a different pub from the rest of us. Texts are exchanged. By around 3am Matt, Bert and I are back at Bert’s and Mo is starting a long walk back to where we are.
Morning at the seaside town. There are texts from Mo at 5am saying he made it to the neighbourhood, but after that it’s radio silence. Calls to Mo are going straight to voicemail. We call places where we think he might have spent the night but the last anybody saw of him was refusing an offer of a different bed for the night and insisting he knew the way to Bert’s while walking in the wrong direction. We call the police. Over the course of the day the police call us back 3 times to give us the opportunity to admit that Mo may have found a stranger to have sex with after 5am on the dark, cold edges of the seaside town. Alternative scenarios which occur to us are a) he was mugged and left unconscious; b) he succumbed to cold on the beach where polite members of the public assume he’s just having a quiet moment to himself; c) he fell into the sea and drowned; d) he flipped like the man in Falling Down; e) a fall and amnesia.
We call the hospital – nobody called Mo has been admitted. It occurs to us to ask a different question so we call again – no unidentifieds since 5am. We let his landlady know and plan to call his work the next day. The police call again to ask where he works – they’re thinking along the same lines. Night falls and we return home on the train with Mo’s overnight bag. Hope is retreating.
Then Mo texts that he is alive. We tell the police to call off the search. We phone Bert to put his mind at rest. Then we call Mo. Here’s what happened.
After 5am Mo rings the buzzer on Burt’s place. Maybe it’s not working – at any rate, nobody hears. Mo has been taking flash photos with his iPhone, and by the time he makes it to Bert’s the battery is dead. No battery, no calling Bert or anybody else. No battery, no phone number for Bert or anybody else – so no payphone call. Mo walks round the block to Tash’s place. Nobody answers there either.
Mo has his train ticket and decides to take the first train back to London, and does that. Some hours later he arrives at his front door and discovers that his keys are in the bag he left at Bert’s. It’s early morning when he starts to tramp round East London killing time without a working phone, and late evening when he finally makes it through his own front door and texts us that he’s home.
What is the moral of this story?