“Let’s go. Everyone’s gone!”
“Not yet, there’s still one coat left.” I only been working in the cloak room for less than a month, but I take it seriously. It’s my first job after my stint in jail. Nothin’ bad, just got me some sticky fingers is all. Then of all the jobs to land after that, I gets a job takin’ care of other people’s belongings. Who says life ain’t got a sense of humour?
“Then they left without their coat. I checked the loos, they’re all empty. If they miss it they’ll be back for it,” Ralph says, opening the door to a brutal winter wind. “C’mon I gotta lock up.”
Fat chance anyone’d go out in that weather without their coat. “I’ll check the pockets. For ID, ‘kay?”
Ralph rolls his eyes at me, but don’t tell me not to. I hurry my fingers into the pockets of this old army great coat. Feels good to go looking even though I’ve kinda got permission to, but the pockets is all empty and I find only a crumpled up scrap o’ paper in the breast pocket what was buttoned shut. I unwrap it and read it twice, but it don’t make no sense.
I’m sorry. This coat is yours now.
I come ‘round the counter to show Ralph the note, but he’s comin’ to me with his hand in the air sayin’ “Whoa! What d’you think you’re doing? Take that off!”
“Wha’?” I said.
“It’s a nice coat sure, but you don’t get to take it just cause someone forgot it.”
“I ain’t takin’ —“ but I am. It’s on me. Feels great too. Nice weight. But I don’t remember puttin’ it on. I take it off and go to show Ralph the note, but he’s standin’ there, arms crossed, lookin’ at me like I’m an idiot. The coat’s back on me, but I know I didn’t put it on.
I go to give the coat to Ralph, you know, gotta show I ain’t stealin’, but then I sorta black out and next things I know Ralph’s on the ground out cold at my feet. That’s bad.
I run outside and immediately the coat’s collar goes up, protectin’ me from the wind. I know it sounds crazy, but I swear it’s true.
But the note lied. The coat ain’t mine. It don’t belong to anyone. I belong to it.