On Albus Dumbledore


Last night at the midtown bistro ______, we were pleased to find Des Esseintes at the bar, his thin hand clutched around a tumbler of amber-colored liquid. We asked about this, and he confirmed it was a single highland malt from the ____ distillery, which he had long professed to be the most burnished yet penetrating of all the whiskeys offered by the establishment (a number said to exceed 200).

We joined him for a round, and then another, and were well into a third when there was a disturbance at the front entrance. The long velvet drapes were pushed aside to make way for a thin, bedraggled old man who suddenly appeared, his frantic expression oddly disturbing as the tranquil murmur of the room gave way to a moment of stunned silence; behind him we detected shouts and white flashes issuing forth from what we had to assume was a mob of paparazzi and reporters, all of whom were thankfully barred from coming in.

“Who is that?” we asked absently — perhaps even rhetorically — as we observed the harangued man walk with restored composure to the bar, where he sat down and removed his hat.

“You really don’t know?” Des Esseintes raised an eyebrow as he addressed us. “Vraiment pas?”

“Am I supposed to?”

“That depends — it’s Albus Dumbledore.”

We looked a little closer. Having ordered a drink, he was now smoothing down a long white beard that could only be described as “wizardly,” but none of this triggered any spark of recognition. “Sorry, no clue.”

Des Esseintes signaled the bartender for a refill. “Don’t worry about it,” he shrugged. “He was a professor or a scientist or something — I think the story is that he made a lot money in a tech start-up in Silicon Valley or something tedious like that.”

“So why the hordes outside?”

“When he died he gave all of his money to the opera,” Des Esseintes laughed a bit ruefully. “It was supposed to have been anonymous — like those of us from a certain era, he did not care to envision his name written on the parterre — but management is now insisting that he walk the red carpet for their next premiere.”

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