Douglas Platt seldom went on vacation. Instead, he’d choose a hotel not more than fifteen minutes from his home (he’d decided that hotels look the same wherever you go), walk through the lobby past the large plant or waterwall (there was always one or both), and choose a couch.
Once settled, he would open his computer and scroll through pictures his friends had posted of their travels. Oftentimes he would bring along a relevant guidebook so as better to live vicariously. Sometimes, if he’d been feeling very extravagant, he would have stopped at a coffee shop on the way and bring along a medium-sized latte (iced or warm, depending on destination).
He didn’t consider it strange or creepy. If asked, he would say that it was an experience unmarred by sunburn, insects, or lost luggage. Most of his friends knew of his habit and felt rather sorry for him.
“Look at Doug,” they’d say. “He never goes anywhere.”
Then, one day, Douglas Platt didn’t show up for work. When nothing was found at his house, either, search parties were organized.
“Check the hotels,” said Randal Credworth. “I just got back from the West Indies.”
Mr. Platt was not to be found at any of his usual haunts.
“Do you think he’s finally done it?” somebody asked.
“Maybe we should expand the search to all the hotels within twenty minutes of here before we start making outlandish suggestions,” answered Credworth. “After all, we all know him.”
But they didn’t. Not really. Because one of the other things that is easy to do in hotel lobbies is pick pockets. And Douglas Platt was now very far away.