Wendy smiled as she told him it was a boring story without a point the way that he told it. Normally when she smiled, Molt felt happiness stir. But when she smiled while saying this, her mouth looked a weary chameleon who’d lost the desire to communicate real human emotion. The story, she said, has no point. At the end of it, people merely come to an understanding of one thing: that you’ve seen Bill Murray partially naked.
Molt talked their way straight into the kitchen, interrupting conversations in order to give strangers high fives. This, he reasoned, was not unlike hiding the letter in plain sight. No one suspects the guy who’s so open and friendly with everyone. And the worst you could say about what he was doing was that it was impolite.
Molt believed that every house that hosts a party puts out whatever swill liquor they do — Smirnoff; Absolut; Grey Goose; vodka, in short — in order to distract the guests from the good liquor the benefactors don’t want them to have. Molt believed that during a party, all the liquor held in a house was game. You simply had to find and liberate it, with the same verve as Che’s Guerilla army.
“It makes me feel my South American heritage,” Molt once told Wendy.
“You’re German,” she said.
“That,” he said, “is a sad truth.”
He schmoozed through the kitchen, found a tumbler, and began checking the cabinets for scotches and cognacs. The whole time he kept up his banter as his misdirection. “If I were anywhere else, I’d still wish all of you were here,” he said. “I don’t believe in the rhymes about beer before liquor, but I have strong convictions that require me to drink anything else before vodka.”
Wendy peeled off from him. She found friends. She was aware of his mission, did not fully approve, but worried that suppressing him would be like kinking the hose.
He moved out of the room and into the hallway that lead to the stairs. His search having been thus far unsuccessful, he was looking for the study. He turned the corner and ducked into the first room there. This was the study. Riding an perfectly reachable shelf were many bottles of scotch, cognac, armagnac, fine tequilas, bourbons, and others. This was it.
He selected and poured. He drank. He admired the library. And then he heard the shuffling sound of bare footsteps behind him. He turned. When he did, he was confronted by the sight of Dan Akroyd, undressed, but for a towel he held around his waist.
The two men reacted in similar fashion. The tumbler in Molt’s hand dashed on the rug. The towel covering Dan Akroyd’s typically unexposed parts also fell.
“Hello, sir,” Molt said.
“Hiya,” said Dan Akroyd, gathering up his towel.
“I’m really sorry,” Molt said. He ducked down and plucked up the pieces of the tumbler.
“Ah,” Dan Akroyd said, “don’t worry. Men, mortals, can’t be too precious about their bodies. Our corporeal selves don’t last long. Shame keeps us covered. Nothing wrong with occasionally being seen for what you are.”
Molt cocked his head.
“That’s a good point,” he said.
“Well, I better skidaddle,” said Dan Akroyd, flopping his arms at his sides. He left the room.
Molt hurried to the hallway after him, but saw no trace of the man.
As he walked back into the fray, intending to get another tumbler and head back to the study and fill up for the second time, he realized how beholden he suddenly felt to this audience. He had been blessed with a story, he couldn’t deprive these people.
Another tumbler could wait.
He felt buoyant as he rejoined the throng and found Wendy.
“The most amazing thing just happened,” Molt said. Wendy smiled. It was a real smile.
Molt felt the spirit of this story indwell him richly. A small crowd began to form around him.
“People,” he said. “I have just seen Dan Akroyd, naked. Fully naked.”
And as he made this statement Wendy’s face fell.
Molt struggled. He could tell what she was thinking. But he felt strong conviction that this story would surpass the first. Dan Akroyd had made an actual comment with, small volume though it may be, substance. The story had a point. And he could exegete it. It could also be about fame, the nature of celebrity. They offer themselves to us, naked.
“It felt like a gift,” he said, “seeing Dan Akroyd naked.”
Wendy shook her head. She turned away from him. She walked out the front door.
Molt felt a dull toothache pain in his chest. He knew what she was assuming, that he’d attempted to subvert her by simply substituting one Ghostbuster for another. There was nothing he could tell her, nothing that could make the truth sound true to her. He looked up at the crowd. They were waiting. He felt a sting in his eyes, and then bent to the work of telling the story.