The Suit

Sam Hatcher was twentyseven and published. To add yet more weight to the argument that he lived in the best of all possible worlds, he had just come from the Garment District, where he had found the perfect suit.

Like most men alive today, Sam had no idea what constituted perfection in a suit. Like all men lucky enough to encounter such perfection, ignorance did not preclude bliss. He hadn’t even needed to see what he looked like in it. The moment he had one arm through a sleeve, he Knew.

Walking down the street to his office he felt like a million bucks. Add to that the fifty grand he had just received as an advance and Sam felt as rich as any man ever has.

He breezed into the magazine where he worked as a copywriter. The new receptionist stared at him. Two models, fresh from a shoot, stared at him. Even the day editor, Old Man Miarty, stared at him with the sort of dull contempt which the aged reserve for things of youth and beauty.

Sam went immediately to the office of the assistant fashion editor, a twentyeight-year-old who everyone, starting with himself, called Fein. The two had bonded over a mutual infatuation with the same underwear model. This had continued to every successive underwear model and they were thinking about extending their appreciation to swimsuits. As a fashion-writer Fein also had the capacity to appreciate the clothing the models were wearing. Sam looked forward to him appreciating his suit likewise.

When he walked into the fashion office, Fein did a double-take that the model to whom he was talking did not like at all. Fein didn’t care. He felt like Cortez, with wild surmise, gazing from the peak at Darien. The fact that he had just used that line on the model did not reduce its veracity.

He couldn’t speak. He went up to Sam and walked around him. Sam bowed. He took Sam’s hand and spun him like a debutante. Sam curtsied. The model made a whining noise that had not failed to get attention since grade school. The way these two men were ignoring her could only remind her how recently she had been so academically inclined. She got up and went to the building’s commissary to indulge in some voracious observation. Neither of them noticed her, or indeed anything but the suit.

“It’s perfect,” Fein breathed.

Sam nodded affably, and grinned like a man waking up to find that his lover is already most actively awake.

But something stuck in Fein’s eye. “Not with that tie,” he said.

Sam looked down. “What’s wrong with this tie?”

“It doesn’t go,” said Fein. In fact Fein had long held that all of Sam’s ties were crimes against the sighted population of the world. Not that it was unusual for him, or any of his profession, to have unfavorable opinions about the fashion choices of others.

Sam frowned at his tie. He looked as crestfallen as a man could in such situation, which was still well in excess of that which would have gotten a less well-dressed man a fist to the teeth.

“Come on,” Fein said, pulling him by the shoulder, “I think we can be of help.”

Fein parked him in front of a supply-closet door. From this he removed one hanging bag after another, until he came to one labeled Piccadilly Circus.

“From the 60s issue,” he said, ripping the bag in half like the foil from a TV dinner. He paged through them, their colors rippling like the scales of a fish swimming through clear water. Sam took this opportunity to rip the tie from his neck, casting it, still knotted, to the ground.

“Put this one on,” said Fein, handing him an offensively stylish specimen. Sam did as he was told.

“Well?” he asked.

Fein crossed his arms, and shook his head.

Sam took off the offending cravat and threw it over a chair. He then helped himself to another tie – one upon which a paisley zebra had been violently ill – while Fein went off to fetch a mirror. Thus prepared, they went up and down through the ties, first one and then the next.

Some matched poorly, others quite well. Soon they had forgotten any notion of their original mission, yet they found themselves quite happy in the ancient pasttime of holding works of art up to the Light.

Soon they were surrounded with ties in various stages of knotting, Naugahyde nooses and lime-green lassos piled around them in every direction. They were down on their knees together, side by side, there before the mirror like parishioners before the holy altar. “Too strong!” Fein would say, or “Fuck no!” from Sam, and then they would go back to their exploration of this wonderful, sartorial world.

They were pulled back to Earth by a terribly unpleasant sound. They both winced instinctively, Sam balanced with his hand on Fein’s shoulder, Fein on one knee above Sam with a halo of painted silk spread open between his fists. Their heads turned reluctantly to the origin of the noise.

There was Old Man Miarty, the wizened, herringbone-clad day editor, staring that them with an expression beyond description.

Unable to move, the two men stared back at him. He held their gaze, and held it without more than a twitch of his lip, until at length he spoke.

“Boys,” he said, “back in my day, writers drank.”

He stared at them for a moment more. Turned, and left the room.

-a chess-table in Harvard Square, 2011


~ by davekov on 9 June 2011.

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