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Dead Man's Coats
by Deborah Cherry Mosch

“That was fun, wasn’t it?” I asked as we hiked through the airport, exhausted.

“Okay, that’s it. Get rid of the coats. Now, I mean it, just toss them into the ladies room,” Pam blurted.

“What? I just got them yesterday,” I answered, puzzled. “They’re brand new.”

“Not true. They were brand new to the young man who bought them who may or may not have recently died of old age. What is true is they now reek like concentrated urine and foot.”

I had never seen Pam this agitated. She’s so cool and collected and kind. I should have seen a red flag though when her computer bag disappeared at the Louisville airport during which was supposedly my watch. She had given me a look. It was understood that if one of us was, say, taking the rental car keys back to the counter, that the other one of us would watch any miscellaneous bags left on the floor by the rental key-returner. That was Pam’s understanding. My understanding was that you never ever leave unattended bags on the airport floor.

I continued, “You talked me into buying those coats. You told me they were cool.”

“I didn’t know what I was saying, I was delirious from the smell,” Pam claimed.

“What? I have trusted you all these years. I only buy what you tell me looks good on me,” I whined.

“Well, you’ve been living a lie. The suede coat is putrid and the leather coat is rank. The smell has actually permeated my glasses.”

“I know this is your headache talking. You’re tense. We had such a good time at the estate sale, didn’t we?”

“I have a headache because I’ve been sitting on a plane for two hours with jacketed corpses missing their bodies. And for two days leading up to that I was stuck in a hotel room and a tiny rental car with the damn things, which, for some secret reason you would not let leave your side. I need fresh air!”

“I couldn’t pass them up, not for that price. You even said, ‘It’s sixteen dollars total for cryin’ out loud, what’s the big decision?’”

“I said that because you were stymied over whether or not to spend sixteen dollars when we were already forty-five minutes late for a brunch that had our jobs on the line.”

“Now you are just exaggerating. Our jobs were only on the line the next day when we were late for the portfolio review. Honestly, I don’t know what on earth I was thinking when I went back down to that bar. You know I can’t hold my liquor. And I don’t even smoke! And I already apologized for that.”

“The coats are so old and mildewy that the only thing holding them together is the smell.”

A few moments of silence gathered between us as we continued our hike through the airport.

I broke the silence with, “It was fun, wasn’t it?”