Monday, January 14, 2008

The Magic Jacket

Chapter 1

Gene had a kind face. His smile was the first thing people would notice. It was a comforting smile with slightly lazy sides. It lacked the harsh edges of a perfect smile giving the observer more ease. He was average height with an average build. If it weren’t for his smile, people may not have noticed him.

One of the fortunes of being so average is the ability to find pants that fit and shirts to match.

On this fine Saturday morning Gene was exploring the downtown market he would frequent for the freshest choice of vegetables. Past the banana stands, beyond the golden delicious, wandering in the way back for something new and fresh he could not yet describe, he found the old section of the bizarre. It was a section of brick and stone facades. Overarching tope muslin awnings blocked the sun from the wet narrow cobblestone. It was as if he had walked far enough back to reach another time.

Down the path on the right he found a small shop of second hand garments at Mrs. Bixby’s Bodacious Boutique. Mrs. Bixby was too short too see when she stood behind the counter and too old to get off her stool at the register. Instead she greeted Gene and watched him make selections.

Seersucker’s, velour, corduroy, denim, or velvet could be found in nearly any length and cut. His hands brushed across the shoulder of shirts on hangers. It gave him some small pleasure to think of the time as a child when he would hid in the garment rack of large superstores waiting for his mother to find him.

Temptation struck his eye in the form of a mannequin torso that stooped on a shelf. “How much for this jacket?” Gene asked Mrs. Bixby.

“Oh, you don’t want that jacket.” She smiled and replied.

“Really? It’s a nice looking jacket, I think it might fit well.” He said.

“You don’t want that jacket, it brings too many problems.” She said.

Gene inspected the jacket closer. It was a dark soft fabric. There was almost a shimmer when the light hit it a certain way. He tugged a little at the stitching and found it very strong. The cut would be described as casual professional, something he could wear with a collar or sweater in the winter.

Over the shoulders of the display he quickly removed the jacket from the lifeless figure. His arm was nearly in the sleeve when he found Mrs. Bixby standing in front of him.

“Oh no sir, you do not want this jacket. Once you place it on, you will never want to take it off.” She said in a reverent tone.

“Don’t be silly Bixby.” Gene proclaimed putting the jacket on fully and turning to the mirror.

Slowly he looked over this jacket that covered him. It looked good. He looked good. It matched what he was wearing perfectly. He looked slimmer, no, more muscular. Gene didn’t recall his hair being so luscious and thick.

“Ten dollars.” Mrs. Bixby said, “Ten dollars and it is yours.”

On that offer he removed exactly ten dollars from his front pocket then practically skipped out the front door.

Reflections of this new garment caught his eye in each shiny object. He made his way to the front market and completed his shopping of a few odds and ends. By the third purchase, he noticed a small trend. Every time he reached into a pocket he found the exact dollar, dime and nickel he needed.

“Yo!” He heard for over his should, “Spare some change?” A homeless man looked to him with outstretched hand.

Gene put his hand in the jacket pocket this time. His hand slowly removed two hundred and fifty two dollars. The homeless mans eyes got very large at the wad of cash. Gene handed it to him.

“Oh my lord” the man said, “how did you know? How did you know what I needed to pay my rent this month? God bless you, God bless you sir.”

Oddly, Gene smiled again and said “You're welcome.”

Down the street he arrived at the bus stop just in time to catch the 144 connector that would take him straight home. As the doors closed his hand went into the pocket and removed a $1.75 that was not previously there.

He turned to find a seat as the bus pulled from the stop. The momentum caused him to take a stutter step. As he caught his balance on the metal poll a bouquet of flowers shot out from his wrist. Looking down at the elderly woman before him he handed her the flowers saying, “I think these are for you.”

Under the exit sign a few chairs back he saw a little girl with her mother laughing at the flowers. As he passed her way a quarter feel from behind his ear. The noise and motion caught his attention.

“More! More please.” The little girl giggled.

Orange silk peeked its edge from the jacket pocket. Gene leaned down so the little girl could reach. She pulled the orange, which was tied to a white, connected to blue, followed by pink, nearly pouring from of his pocket in a long line of silk. When laughter overwhelmed the little girl she stopped and so did the hankies.

Riveted by this new discovery, by the new wonderful looking and magical jacket Gene found his seat and smiled. He found it hard to contain himself with the joy of finding a jacket that was so full of exactly what was needed.

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