The Bizarre Tamam Shud Case

On 1 December, 1948, authorities were called to Somerton Beach in Adelaide, Australia. They discovered a deceased man strewn across the sand. Inside his pocket was an unused train ticket from Adelaide to Henley Beach. As well, they discovered some personal belongings such as a comb, chewing gum, cigarettes, and matches.

The man had no identification on his person. Witnesses reported seeing a man who fit his description on the beach the previous day. He had extended his arm before limply dropping it by his side. Another witness reported seeing a well-dressed man carrying a man on his shoulders. He was believed to be between 40-45 years old. The case became known as “The Tamam Shud case” due to the bizarre note discovered in his trouser pocket which read “tamám shud” which means “ended” or “finished” in Persian.

The note was written on a torn page of Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. Following a public appeal, the copy in which the page was torn was located and there was a phone number and an encrypted message, which has not been deciphered to this day. The identity and the cause of death of this mysterious man remains unknown.

OK, the Henley story

Beach Boy Bob (full name: Insane Lunatic Beach Boy Bob ____. That’s what we all called him) comes home from his hospital stay and convalesces. He busies himself writing letters to celebrities, telling them of his heart attack and asking for autographs. Which he receives – by the dozen, all personalized with a brief get well wish.

Surveying his newfound bounty, Bob has a brainstorm – ditch the rag trade and start up an autograph store! And open it in the poshest town around. So, he has the autographs matted and framed, with glass over them. Rents a prime location. And he displays the autographs and offers them for sale at high prices. And sells…none. Because they’re all personalized with sayings like “Dear Bob, sorry about your heart attack, get better. Yours, Lou Holtz, Notre Dame”.

One Friday evening Bob rushes into the record store where we all hung out. You’ve seen High Fidelity? Yep. Like that. It was our headquarters; we drank coffee, listened to the new releases, and criticized people’s purchases while our pal Joe “The King of Retail” ran (tried to run)  the business. Anyway, Bob rushes in like a wild-eyed Harvey Pekar or Drew Friedman cartoon character and addresses us: “Who knows Don Henley?” Collective shrug. “You!” he accuses the King. “You know him, you know everybody in music. You have to call him for me. Right now!” Why Bob? “Because I told a guy I knew Don Henley and could get an autograph for him by Monday. You gotta call him for me”.

I miss those loonies.