Coat du Roam

So shiny. The man in the Mylar suit claimed to be from “next week,” he also claimed the seat next to mine as I did my usual balancing act at the fig. I attract these sort of people, those with stories. Perhaps they perceive in me someone empathetic to their plight, a fellow traveler in the arcane and esoteric, a brother researcher of the recherché. Or just as likely, they spy the reporter’s notebook peaking from my coat pocket and are overcome by a sudden ink-lust. I don’t begrudge them. In point of fact, I need them, and as they say, “everyone has a story.” Or, at least everyone thinks they have a story and many of those begin with an arrival – usually theirs – somewhere, somehow. If you were a character in a comic book, bestselling novel, or major motion picture, this story would be part of your “origin myth.” As I mentioned last week, such myths have piqued my interest of late. That the silver-clad gent next to me at the bar asserted that he had arrived from the future, led me to believe his origin myth was all the more mythical. Which is to say untrue. But who was I to judge? My very name is mythical and in my own little way, I too am a tad anachronistic, but only because I won’t cut my hair lest I lose my superpowers. Unlike my newfound bar mate, I’m not from the future. I’m from 1972 and that nearby nebulae of cows and angst known as Petaluma, which sounds nearly as exciting as it was to grow up there.

So, wherefrom the man in the Mylar suit? “Next week,” he said last week, which means, at present writing, that he’s from Now. Generally, I can do without this sort of Borgesian brouhaha, especially during the work-week (I try to reserve the more surreal experiences for the weekend when I have the psychic stamina to deal with fissures in our consensual reality), but I allowed myself to get pulled in due to his intriguing, dark manner. And the fact that his coat was shiny. He shrugged it off his shoulders and slung it over his barstool.

Though, at the time, he wouldn’t tell me what loomed in the future, he did intimate that this week would be something to behold. After a couple of post-Oscar-party glasses of absinthe at the fig last Sunday night, I can rightfully say I beheld it. Moreover, I will never behold it again – not due to some ephemeral vision brought on by the Green Fairy, but because I had to make a deal with a higher power to smite the pangs in my head the next day, and one should not trifle with the god of ibuprofen.

“You don’t remember the last time I was here, do you?” the time traveler asked.

I didn’t but I reasoned that was because it hadn’t happened yet. How could I remember the future when I can hardly remember the past? This pseudo-logic pleased the man, enough to impart the following:

“I came to apologize,” he said. “To you.”

“So far as I’m aware, you haven’t done anything to warrant an apology.”

“Not yet.”

As I attempted some nervous laughter, the man took a long draught of his pint. “It’s an indirect affair. It’s just that I feel responsible. I was hoping that maybe I had it wrong, but here I am and here you are and I realize now, it can’t be helped. And now I gotta stay here and you well…”

“Well what?”

“Just remember that it’s dry clean only.”

With that, the man slid off the barstool and into the noontime drizzle. The coat remained on the barstool like a deflated metallic balloon. Then I knew what would soon befall me. It fit perfectly.