Brett Bean is not a four-year-old or a runaway teenager in a tantrum but aged 43, and from all accounts, an exceptionally good son.
That makes the ordeal of his mother and father no less painful, only more mystifying.
While people often go missing everywhere, the disappearance of Brett Bean, a man who had the kind of lifestyle most people envy, is a riddle that grows more confounding each day.
Lynne and Wayne Bean, now walking the streets of Phuket and questing in unfamiliar territory through the restaurants and bars of Karon and Patong, were at Los Angeles airport in late in November, waiting to greet Brett for the annual reunion that marked his return to America and home.
He did not arrive. That led the parents to Phuket where the puzzle of their missing son remains. Media coverage and Missing Person posters have increased awareness.
''The people know,'' Wayne Bean said. ''The word is out. We went to a couple of pubs and they all know Brett, but they haven't seen him for a while.''
The Karon-Patong region on Phuket's holiday west coast remains the focus of attention. It's where Brett spent most of the year, for about the past eight years, surfing and hanging out, but growing more reclusive, according to other surfers, on his visit this year.
At least six ATM withdrawals have been made from two accounts in his name, mostly between November 23 and December 5. Video footage reveals a man who looks a lot like Brett involved in three of the withdrawals. Wayne and Lynn Bean are now working with Phuket police and US embassy representatives on Phuket to obtain video connected with the other three withdrawals, which were from an overseas bank and for more substantial amounts.
The latest withdrawal was made from the Wells Fargo Bank on December 17. It was for 30,000 baht, and it emptied the account.
THE SIMPLEST way for a person to leave one life behind and begin another is to tell everyone ''I'm going for a swim'' then leave clothes on the beach, by the water's edge. If Brett Bean has decided to start a new life, he has chosen an odd way of doing it.
All of the ATM withdrawals have been made within close proximity to his rented bungalow, where he paid one year's rent in advance last month. In the bungalow there are no signs of a disturbance. But his passport is there. Clothes are ready. Everything is as it might have been prepared on November 26, ready for departure on November 27. With perhaps one or two final tasks to complete, visits to make.
On November 26, he emailed his mother, telling her that he was looking forward to a steak or maybe some sushi. ''Give sis my plans,'' he wrote. After that, nothing. Lynne and Wayne have since discovered a withdrawal from an ATM at 11.45am on November 27. Then he failed to appear to catch an AirAsia flight to Bangkok at 9.30pm.
What does Lynne Bean think happened? ''I go back and forth,'' she says, before telling a story of a couple of men who appeared to have been drugged before being robbed.
''He would have been alone,'' she said. ''It would have been easy. Whatever happened on the 27th, he did not go back to the bungalow.''
There is a focus now on whether he may have had a closer, more intimate relationship than the casual friendships he struck up on Phuket with his easy-going nature. Wayne Bean says there was a Thai girlfriend at one stage years ago, but she is ''long gone.''
Brett would head back to the US each year, where father Wayne kept his '88 Bronco in good shape with a monthly fire-up at the family's California home. Brett had been skiing since 1992, his mother says, and had risen to the top level of qualification for an instructor.
People were flying in to Aspen this season expecting to go skiing with Brett, where his skiing buddies are now as mystified about what has happened as his Phuket surfing buddies. Brett is paying off a property in Arizona that is rented out.
His finances appeared to be in good shape, with intense instructing paying for his easier lifestyle on Phuket. But his father says: ''I never could quite figure out why he chose to spend so much time on Phuket. i could never figure out the attraction.''
WHY WOULD Brett Bean behave in this fashion? His parents can think of no logical answer, which is why they fear something has happened to him. ''This is a total, total mystery,'' says Wayne Bean. ''It's uncharacteristic of him.''
''Very uncharacteristic,'' Lynne chimes in. She had one strange experience in a Phuket restaurant. She and a friend from Aspen, Naomi Smith, were told a man who had just left knew Brett. From the rear, they even thought he might be Brett. But when they intercepted the look-alike, he denied ever knowing Brett and walked off, rapidly.
''Brett loves his mom,'' says Wayne. Brett would call for birthdays and Mother's Day, and always most especially for the birthday of his older brother, Grady, who died in an accident aged 17. When there was no call on Grady's birthday last Tuesday, a day after the Wells Fargo withdrawal, the family's concerns became even more intense.
For now, Wayne and Lynne Bean have no option except to continue the walking and waiting game. They will continue checking out the streets and bars, hoping Brett calls in, safe, or that some clue emerges to solve the puzzle.
Phuket, and where the Beans are right now, is not an easy place for any parent to be.