Today you’re going to steal a sweet London Fog from the chair of a college student who headed off to the men’s room. You’ll be halfway across the reading room when you’ll hear, “Dad!”
You’ll keep walking. Calmly. Can’t be for you.
No way that’s for you. Unless…
“Security, that man has my coat!”
A guard by the door will grab you and tug the coat from your arms. He’ll turn you around to face the kid you stole it from.
“You don’t even recognize me, do you,” the kid will say.
You lost your glasses in a fight a month ago so you have to squint to see. Then you squint harder, hard enough to be sure you’re seeing what you’re seeing.
You can’t be blamed for not recognizing him. Last time you saw him he was ten. The only thing you recognize about him is the look in his eyes as he recognizes you. He’s looking at you like a kid would a father.
“This wasn’t a coincidence. I tracked you down here. A private investigator told me you steal coats from this reading room.”
“I wouldn’t have been any good to you,” you tell him. “You don’t want me back in your life.”
“I don’t,” your son says. “Mom’s dying. It’s her wish that you come back with me. Do that and you can keep the coat.”
Your son takes the coat from the guard and puts it over your shoulders, then he holds up two plane tickets. The two of you fly back to Michigan where you’re escorted to your ex-wife’s hospital bed. She wakes from her drugged sleep, sees your face, and starts to laugh.
“I have such a good son,” she says.
“Hi Muriel,” you say.
Your ex-wife says she’s tying up all her loose ends, and yours was the loosest.
“You left without saying goodbye,” she says. “Just disappeared. So I wanted to have the chance for us to have a proper farewell so I can say what I never got to say.”
Your ex-wife calls you a son of a bitch and spits in your face.
Your son leads you out of the room and hands you your plane ticket back. You fly home feeling good to have some of the guilt of your leaving washed away with your ex-wife’s spit. And you’re excited to have a warm new coat to help you get through this bitch of a winter.
Happy You Steal Coats From The Chair Backs At The Library Day!