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So it was that last Wednesday I flew to Detroit and drove an hour north. The Flint home corresponding to the address is a brick ranch house on a main drag, not far from a GM plant and not far from a golf course. There was a dark blue H2 in the driveway and an old Lincoln shrouded in a tarp. A basketball rim, rusted and bent upward, was affixed to the garage. The house appeared to be divided into two residences. A light was on in one kitchen. So far, so good. But my knocks went unanswered.
I wondered if Benny was playing hoops, so I ventured to the Flint YMCA. Jeff Grayer, a former NBA player, was there finishing a pickup game. He smiled when asked about Anders. "Benny Anders! We used to see him around, but that was a long time ago," said Grayer. "When you find him, let me know."
I returned to the home and, in stinging cold, stood on the doorstep, feeling pathetic and somewhat guilty intruding on the privacy of a man who hadn't been heard from in a quarter century. When my knocks again yielded no answer, I was almost relieved. I left a note and a business card in the mail slot, but the gesture was pro forma.
It's entirely possible that Benny is alive and well, that there's a simple explanation for his disappearance. His family's concern? His teammates' cracks—which have become less funny through the years—about witness protection? It might all be a misunderstanding, and he's teaching gym in Birmingham or running a Subway franchise in the Chicago suburbs or working in a cubicle in Bangkok. But someone else will have to find him. I failed. And now I'm done looking. Benny Anders remained a step ahead.
Perhaps, ideally, he should remain there. As it stands, Benny exists as a series of brazen quotes, a flash of pink cummerbund, and astounding dunks, one in a pivotal game—a fleeting vision of athletic perfection and personal cult. Out, out brief candle.
A man named Benny Anders, once the Phi Beta Kappa of Phi Slamma Jamma, is now outside the reach of social media, geocoding, voting records and satellite maps. Outside the hazy memories and unquenched desires of people like me. The Outlaw persists, and I'm O.K. with that.