Posted May 25, 2012
This story is part of ULTRA. Support the author by liking it on Facebook!
In the park he came across a coat, and he took it home. It seemed abandoned and uncared for, laid across a chair inside a tent. It drew him closer, for it was beautiful. Not so much for its colour but for its cut. It was grey, but a perfect grey, and every edge including the pockets (and there were many of these), every edge was trimmed in the most glorious pink. Hot pink. The kind of pink that sang to him, dazzled his eyes, dazzled his mind, and sparked his desire.
He took the coat, he took it swiftly home.
No one loved it. But he would.
He took it swiftly home as only he could, speeding through the park via the ways he knew, going off the path here and there, going under the fence elsewhere, then across the busy road, such a dance and how he enjoyed it! Then two more blocks to home, where he slunk in and finally put it on and gazed a huge while at himself in the mirror. Oh but it was good. The happiest coat he had seen.
Odd, however. For all of its many pockets, only two were real ones. And in places there was padding inside, to make the collar sit up for example, and the lapels seem plump.
And the sleeves were far too short for him. More of a jacket, he decided after turning about many times to admire it.
And velvety. So velvety.
It was truly and by far the most perfect thing he had ever brought home.
Outside, voices. The others were getting back. Swiftly he put it into his wardrobe on his best coat hanger, and slid the door closed.
But the love of the coat was to prove no protection against the Monthly Shrivel. The Shrivel marched relentless, it crept like a thief, it burgled him of bounce. And within a few days back at the Factory, his spirit slumped. They shouted at him at breakfast, to eat it all up, to take his meds. He didn’t care, and he did their bidding, but it did no good. Another week at the factory, a rainy weekend, another week at the Factory. The entire month dragged by until the moon came back, and when it got full and fat and shiny, he felt up to going out again.
He took some tights this time. No one seemed to love them, hanging all forlorn on that clothesline. But he did, he loved them, he would take care of them.
He took them swiftly home, speeding down the ways he knew. With the tights on – oh it felt so good! What else did he have? His new tights made him think of his funny hat – the one that Punch might wear with the three colours and the bells. He put that on too, stood in front of his mirror. What else? A shirt. Yes a shirt, but not tucked in. A shiny shirt. He had a girl’s one somewhere, very pink! He slid open his wardrobe, and oh! There was the Lonely Coat! Now he would look good! He would look HUGE!
He ran through the park, and he was very happy. Ran, ran, ran around and through the children’s playground, around and through the rose garden. People watched. He ran around the fountain and back the other way for fun, then headed for the big lawn. There were always people picnicking there. They would watch him for sure!
But even better, the big lawn was full of people. There was a tent. Two vans off to the side. Lots of people. They were watching something going on in the middle. There were Players. There were lines pegged out on the ground. There was music playing loudly, there were cameras. Television cameras.
Oh this would be fun!
He ran on, skipping as well, slowing down, getting through the crowd, getting to the edge of that big pattern of lines on the ground. Ah, squares. It was hopscotch! A huge hopscotch! And there were Players dressed up fine and standing in their places with huge tall hats, and some moving about, dancing and changing places in time to the music.
He loved this park! This sort of stuff was always going on.
Through he moved, through the final line of children sitting, and onto the squares he danced as well, swiftly, giggling, twirling.
He saw the Players startle, heard them gasp. One, a pretty girl in a fairy costume, gasped the loudest. He even heard her say, “My coat!”
Oh, she admired his coat? Well of course, and so she should! He dodged around one of the Players – the one in the castle costume, and pranced across the squares again back the way he came, jumped over the children! The fairy lunged for him, he heard her curse, her hand missed by a mile. Everybody laughed.
He went swiftly, the crowd sprang back, the way opened, he bumped a few of them but it didn’t matter because everyone still laughed!
In the show! He had been in the show! His new coat had been in the show!
He took it swiftly away from that grasping fairy, speeding through the park via the ways he knew, going off the path here and there, going under the fence elsewhere, and soon he was through the children’s playground again, and over the bridge where the ducks got fed, across the car park so very full and off a mile away in the bigger park (the one with the golf course further over, and the path where the sporty people ran and ran), and here there were even more people, and a hundred tents, and a huge stage. Huge!
What a place to frolic, and he did, and the people thought he was great except the security guys but he saw them and swiftly slunk away around the back.
He slowed down. He was puffed. He slunk around between the trucks and the vans and the plain-coloured little tents. There were Players in those tents, music people and dancer people getting ready or getting undone and dressed again. He flitted past them, peeking in, hoping to see some undies.
No. No undies today.
And around the corner he found a very quiet spot between three vans, and sitting there were four ladies, with tea. Old ladies. Ordinary ladies. Except the little one. There was a little one. She was a dwarf. He knew that. Two of his friends at the Factory were dwarfs. Dwarfs were cool. He was cool with dwarfs.
“Hello,” he said. They had taught him manners at Special School.
“Hello,” they said in reply, even as one of them turned to whisper to another, “It’s your coat!”
He stood, panting a bit after all that running. He had stopped because they had cake.
“Hello,” he said again, eyeing the cake.
“Would you like some cake?”
The little one sprang down off her big folding chair, squatted, cut a piece of cake, moved it onto a paper plate, stood, and handed it to him.
“That’s a lovely coat,” she said. She had a lovely voice.
He nodded. Mustn’t talk with his mouth full. They’d taught him manners at school.
“Is it yours, then?”
He stopped eating, eyed them carefully. They didn’t look like they might hit him. His mouth was still full of cake. He felt bad.
“How did you get that lovely coat?”
Once again he was silent. He needed to swallow his cake, but he could not swallow.
“That is it?” asked one of the ladies.
“Definitely,” said the dwarf lady.
He began to move, ever so slowly, hoping they would not notice. They all got to their feet. They were following him. One of them had a telephone. He saw her slowly opening it, hoping he would not notice.
“Did you take the coat?” asked Little Lady.
He hunched his shoulders, looked down at the ground.
“You took it, didn’t you? You shouldn’t have taken it, should you?”
He shook his head.
“I made that coat,” said Little Lady, “I made it very specially for someone I know.”
Quickly he swallowed his cake. He knew the answer to this one! It was always good to know the right answer!
The ladies all glanced at each other. Little Lady nodded. “Yes, the fairy.”
He hunched down further, right against the back of a tent. They had surrounded him.
“Do you think maybe you should give it back?” asked Little Lady.
He dropped his cake plate. It wobbled, rolled, fell over. He was pressed against the tent’s pole now. His hands came up, his fingers curled. His shoulders were pushing the funny fat collar right up to his ears.
“I know the fairy,” said Little Lady, “if you give it to me, I’ll give it back to her.”
He took it off. He closed his eyes. He held it to her. She took it. But it was alright, because he still had on his shiny pink shirt underneath. But he still cried.
“It’s alright,” said the ladies, “it’s alright! Don’t cry. You’ve done a good thing! What’s your name anyway?”
“Do you like pretty clothes, Kevin?”
“I could make you your very own coat,” said Little Lady.
“Grace, you’ll only be rewarding him!” whispered one of the ladies crossly.
“Would you like that, Kevin?” continued Little Lady.
“Then I will, because you’ve done a good thing.”
Slowly he unfolded himself, like a tent. He smiled.
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