The Jacket

by Dan Nielsen

Dave Reisinger sold his paisley jacket, the one with the ripped pocket, to his friend Tom Fogg from down the block. It was the annual spring neighborhood rummage sale with part of the proceeds going for a good cause—something environmental—so Tom gladly paid five dollars for it and wore it later that evening to pick up his wife, Suzy, from the airport.

Suzy Fogg, a frequent flyer with friends and relatives on the coast, bumped up to first class, where she made the acquaintance of fashion designer Virgil Abloh. 

Virgil and Suzy exited the main concourse together. Tom spied his wife and popped the trunk. This was temporary parking. Security cops were everywhere. A limo pulled in front of him, tinted windows, lights flashing, took up two spaces. It made Tom nervous. He needed to get out of there, but Suzy wanted to introduce Tom to her famous new friend.

“Nice to meet you,” Tom said curtly. He shook Virgil’s hand briefly. He turned and grabbed the larger of the bags. 

Virgil felt slighted. “I like your jacket.” Virgil took out his wallet. “How much do you want for it?”

“What?” Tom put both bags in the trunk and slammed it shut. It needed to be slammed or it might not close. 

“I like your jacket.” Virgil held his wallet, opened, defiantly, in his hand. “I’m offering to buy it.”

“One hundred dollars.” Tom had no idea why he said that. Maybe it was because one hundred minus five is ninety-five. 

The ride home was tense. Tom shivered. He turned up the heat. Suzy turned it back down. Tom stared at Suzy, but only for a second. He was driving after all.

“What is your problem?” Tom stared straight ahead. There was an exit approaching. There was a lane to access.

“Why did you have to embarrass me like that?” Suzy needed a cigarette. 

“How did I embarrass you?” A question can be a kind of lie when you already know the answer. 

“Selling your jacket to a complete stranger?” Suzy lit a cigarette. “And it wasn’t even your jacket. That was Dave’s jacket. Why were you wearing Dave’s jacket?”

“You introduced us,” Tom said, and swerved into the adjoining lane. The car behind them beeped. Tom slowed for the exit. They’d be home soon. Suzy pressed the window button. 

“I didn’t introduce you.” Suzy blew smoke out the window. “You’ve known Dave since kindergarten.”

They were at a yield sign now. “Not Dave! The guy from the plane!” The car behind them honked. Tom glanced in the rearview. Not the same sound. Not the same car. Tom pulled into traffic, but by now it was almost too late, and they nearly got hit.   

One year later, at the discount mall on the interstate, Tom saw the same paisley jacket, minus the ripped pocket, sporting a Virgil Abloh label. It was 99 dollars, marked down from 250. 

Tom thought of Suzy. She’d get a kick out of this. But Suzy left him. Moved to the coast. She flew away and never came back.

Tom felt stupid and confused, but he needed a jacket, and this was a Virgil Abloh, a famous fashion designer Tom knew personally. They even spoke on the phone. Tom was looking for his wife. Virgil had no idea what Tom was talking about until he mentioned the jacket. Yes, he remembered the jacket. No, he had not seen or heard from anyone’s wife. 

Tom bought the jacket, and at the discount liquor store next door picked up a twelve-pack of Pabst.   

Dave was sitting on his front porch smoking weed when he saw Tom’s car coming down the street. Dave waved. Tom pulled up in front of Dave’s house. 

Dave passed the joint. Tom took a hit and handed it back. Tom opened two beers and placed one between them on the step.

“You got the pocket fixed,” Dave said.

“I did,” Tom said.      

———

Dan Nielsen is a 71 year old stand-up comic. His least favorite flavor of jelly is petroleum. Recent FLASH appeared in: Connotation Press, Jellyfish Review, (mic)ro(mac), Necessary Fiction, The Cabinet of Heed, and Cheap Pop. Dan has a website: Preponderous, and you can follow him @DanNielsenFIVES. He and Georgia Bellas are the post-minimalist art/folk band Sugar Whiskey.